Stockholm’s Political Stickers

Ok, so this isn’t technically a political sticker, but the photo is too good not to use! (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 13/08/2022).

The final stop on my Scandinavian jaunt was Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. There was a General Election in Sweden on the 11th of September 2022, and when we were there in mid-August the city was covered in campaign posters. It was interesting to think about how ‘official’ political campaigns use the streets to convey messages compared to political stickers. What it really emphasised to me was the wide variety of ways in which public spaces and city streets are politicised.

The text on this sticker translates to “No to war! No to NATO! Sweden will not join the US war alliance”. The Russian invasion of Ukraine in March 2022 sparked heated debates about whether or not Scandinavian countries should join NATO (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 13/08/2022)
This sticker is also referencing the Russian invasion of Ukraine, or at least the rule of Russian president Putin. In the photo, a child-sized Putin is being praised by an adult-sized Hitler, drawing a link between Putin and fascism (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 15/08/2022).
This simple representation of the trans flag has been made with coloured pencils or crayons and attached to a lamppost with sellotape. At a time when trans people and their rights are under sustained and vicious attacks, displaying the flag is an act of resistance (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 13/08/2022).
This sticker was produced by the Stockholm group of Fridays for Future, and international network of school strikes for climate. The very first school striker, Greta Thunberg, was born in Stockholm, although her influence now goes much further (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 13/08/2022)
This sticker directly references Greta Thunberg. I found the design a little confusing, but I suppose I got the message eventually (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 14/08/2022).
These stickers were made by the Swedish Extinction Rebellion. The text on the top stickers translates to “Rebelling for the Climate. Become a Climate Rebel!” The first part of the second sticker proved too difficult for Google Translate, so I’m not sure what it says (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 14/08/2022).
This sticker also relates to climate change, but it is more solution oriented. It translates to “Wind power? Yes thanks.” This design of a smiley face on a round yellow sticker is quite common, although the text often changes (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 13/08/2022).
This sticker was made by a German anti-fascist group. The text translates to ‘Antifascist Network.” Lichtenberg is a neighbourhood in Berlin. This design is playing with the logo for Paramount, a well-known American film and television company founded in 1902. (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 14/08/2022).
This sticker is advertising a European Citizens’ Initiative to ban fur farming and the sale of fur in the EU. The European Citizens’ Initiative is basically a form of petition. If 1 million citizens of at least 7 member states sign the initiative, then the European Commission has to propose a legal act. The text is in Finnish, and translates to “The time of furs is over. Sign the citizens’ initiative.” More information can be found at (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 16/08/2022).
This sticker was produced by Ung Vänster (Young Left), the youth wing of the Swedish labour movement. As the sticker implies, it is a feminist and socialist group (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 16/08/2022).
This sticker was also produced by Ung Vänster. The text translates to “Claim your rights! Free public transport, sports and culture. Organise yourself in Ung Vänster” (Well Google Translate thinks the first part is “Claim your steering wheel!” but after looking at the group’s website, I think rights makes more sense than steering wheel!) (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 13/08/2022).
I thought this was a nice defiant note to end the blog post on! (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 13/08/2022).

Oslo’s Political Stickers

The Akerhus Fortress in central Oslo dates back to the 13th century. It has been a castle, a fortress, a prison, and is now home to several museums and the mausoleum of the Norwegian Royal family (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 11/08/2022).

The next stop on my Scandinavian adventure in the summer of 2022 was Oslo, the capital of Norway. Founded in around 1000 A.D., the city is now the political and economic centre of Norway, as well as one of the most expensive cities in the world. Turns out that it is also very good for political stickers!

Stickers and posters like this one were made and put up in Norwegian ports in the summer of 2022 by a group called CruiseNOTWelcome, which aims to raise awareness of the social and environmental impacts of large cruise ships. There were several huge cruise ships in Oslo whilst I was there, and I can see why some locals aren’t keen on them. Apart from anything else, the vast ships block the view of the Oslo Fjord, and the city centre was much busier when the cruise ships were docked (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 10/08/2022).
This sticker plays with the imagery of the Godfather. The text translates to “Make The Alliance an offer they can’t refuse.” The Alliance – Alternative for Norway is a Norwegian neo-Nazi political party (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 10/08/2022).
I really like the design of this sticker. The 1st of May, or May Day, is used around the world to commemorate the victories of workers and the labour movement. The text translates to “work under capitalism is coercion, fight for socialism!” The sticker is produced by Rød Ungdom, or Red Youth, the youth group of the Red Party. It’s 3 main principles are revolutionary socialism, feminism, and communism (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 10/08/2022)
The Karlsøy Festival is a co-creative and participatory festival which takes place annually on an island in northern Norway (10/08/2022).
Kvinnefronten, or the Women’s Front, is Norway’s oldest radical women’s organisation. This sticker is playing with the format of a Who Wants to be a Millionaire question, and translates as: “whose choice? the Church; the State; the tribunal [courts?]; the woman. Abortion is women’s choice; remove the courts!” Of course, “the woman” is highlighted as the correct answer (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 10/08/2022).
Sea Punks is a German voluntary organisation that helps refugees in Europe. They are raising money to fund a ship to rescue refugees trying to reach Euope via the Mediterranean Sea (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 10/08/2022).
This sticker is declaring the place that it is stuck in an “anti-racist neighbourhood” (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 10/08/2022).
This sticker translates too “The whole world hates Nazis.” If only that were true! (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 10/08/2022).
This sticker is advertising an anti-Nazi protest in Fredrikstad, another city in Norway, in July 2017, which pretty much makes it an antique by sticker standards! (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 11/08/2022).
This sticker is in Polish and translates to “Anti-homophobic Action.” It is not unusual for activists and campaigners to take stickers with them when they travel, or this could be a Polish activist living in Oslo. Frustrating as it often is, I can only guess at the stories and circumstances of most people who put up stickers (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 11/08/2022).
Be Gay Do Crime is a slogan used by LGBTQI+ activists that has increased in popularity over the last few years. The image of a skeleton carrying a sign with the slogan on is also quite common, although I haven’t been able to figure out why (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 10/08/2022).

Malmö’s Political Stickers

The Old Royal Post Office Building in Malmö (Photo: Hannah Awcock 08/08/2022).

Malmö is the third largest city in Sweden. Previously heavily industrialised, it struggled to adjust to post-industrialism, but it has been thriving since the completion of the Øresund Bridge, a combined railway/road bridge and tunnel that connects the southern Swedish city to Copenhagen, 16km away across the Øresund Straight. I went on a day trip to Malmö whilst staying in Copenhagen in the summer of 2022. All of the stickers featured here were found in that single day.

Extinction Rebellion was founded in the UK in 2018. Since then, it has expanded around the world. It combines internationally recognisable symbols…(Photo: Hannah Awcock, 08/08/2022).
…with local designs and languages. This sticker translates to “Do you have climate anxiety? Do you think those in power don’t care enough? You are not alone.” (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 08/08/2022).
The text on this sticker means ‘Young Antifascist” (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 08/08/2022).
This sticker is fairly self-explanatory, but it means “Activism, Feminism, Socialism in Lund.” Lund is a city about 20km away from Malmö. The Instagram account promoted by this sticker belongs to Organising Autonomously, a revolutionary socialist organisation based in Lund (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 08/08/2022).
I’m assuming that this sticker used to have more detail, that has faded with time. The most recent series of protests in Hong Kong started in 2019, so this sticker could be relatively old (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 08/08/2022).
Team Vegan is a German company that sells ethically sourced, vegan-themed clothing and products. You can buy this design and others on t-shirts, hoodies, and stickers (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 08/08/2022).
Variations of the ‘Hello my name is…’ stickers are quite popular with graffiti artists as a quick and relatively low-risk way of tagging. Sometimes, as in this case, they are used to spread a political message (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 08/08/2022).
The Grindadrap is an annual hunt of pilot whales and dolphins in the Faroe Islands. The animals are driven into shallow bays where they are beached and killed. The hunt has come under increasing criticism from animals rights groups over the last few decades as particularly cruel and traumatic for the animals. Its defenders argue that it does not affect the population numbers of affected species, it has been made more humane recently, and it is a central part of Faroese culture (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 08/08/2022).
The text on this sticker translates to “HIV is not contagious during treatment.” The sticker was made by Positiva Gruppen Syd, a non-profit organisation based in Malmö that supports people with HIV in southern Sweden. HIV treatment has developed to the point where people with HIV cannot transmit it as long as they are receiving treatment, but there is still a lot of stigma and misinformation involved (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 08/08/2022).
I do not think I have come across a sticker celebrating demisexuality before. Demisexuality means that you do not experience sexual attraction based on immediate factors such as looks or smell, but you can experience sexual attraction based on a bond you have formed with someone once you get to know them. I assume the background of this sticker is a faded representation of the demisexual flag, which is white on the top and grey on the bottom, with a purple stripe in the middle and a black triangle on the left-hand side (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 08/08/2022).
I like to try and finish these posts on a positive note; this sticker reads “The world is more beautiful with you” (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 08/08/2022)

Copenhagen’s Political Stickers

Nyhavn is one of the most popular tourist spots in Copenhagen. This is an advert, not a political sticker, but the picture was too good to leave out! (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 03/08/2022)

In the summer of 2022, I went on a tour of Scandinavian cities with my sister, and of course I photographed all the political stickers I could find! Our first stop was Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark. We paid a trip to the Museum of Danish Resistance, which documents resistance to the Nazi occupation of Denmark between 1940 and 1945. To say I was excited when I discovered they have a machine in their collections for printing stickers with resistance slogans is putting it mildly – I had no idea that political stickers went back that far!

I would like to apologise in advance for any dodgy translation, I did the best I could with the help of Google translate, but I’m sure there are some errors. I will correct them if they are brought to my attention.

As ever, there are stickers in Copenhagen that relate to both international and local issues. This is an antique by sticker standards (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 09/08/2022).
This sticker is also quite old – the protest advertised means it was made at some point before July 2017. The colours have faded and it has been partially covered with spray paint, which makes some of the text difficult to distinguish (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 06/08/2022)
Some stickers link the international and local context. This sticker is produced by Extinction Rebellion Danmark, and the text roughly translates to “Update Democracy. Citizens’ Assembly Now.” Citizens assemblies are representatives of a population randomly chosen to discuss and make recommendations on a particular issue. They have become a popular tactic for some protest movements in recent years. (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 09/08/2022).
Danish and English are not the only languages that I found on stickers in Copenhagen. This sticker, in German, reads “Liberation doesn’t stop with people! #SolidaritywithAnimals #vegan.” (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 06/08/2022).
Visual symbolism can be a powerful way to overcome language differences. I would recognise the black and red flags as an anti-fascist symbol even if there was no text at all (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 06/08/2022).
Christiania is an anarchist commune in Copenhagen that started out as a squatted military base in 1971. The residents do not accept the authority of the Danish state, and it has become a well-known source of cannabis for both locals and tourists.
Residents have pushed back however, and fought hard to keep hard drugs and violence out of the neighbourhood. In the 2000s, a deal was made to cede control of the neighbourhood to the Copenhagen City Council and in 2012, residents started to buy land, becoming landowners rather than squatters. Some people now dismiss the area as a tourist attraction that has lost all its radical credentials, but clearly not everyone feels this way. Pusher Street is the main street in Christiania, where cannabis used to be freely bought and sold. The red rectangle with three yellow circles is the flag of Christiania (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 06/08/2022).
Sometimes people seem to go out of their way to put stickers up in extreme or hard to reach places. I found this sticker at the top of the tower of Our Saviour’s Church, which is 90 metres tall. The text translates to “The Patriarchy doesn’t take breaks. The 8th of March is every day!” (The 8th of March is International Women’s Day) (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 06/08/2022).
These stickers were produced by the Popular Socialist Youth of Denmark, the youth wing of Green Left, a socialist political party. The top sticker translates to “Didn’t you pass the Danishness test either?”, whilst the lower one reads “We must build up rather than tear down” (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 07/08/2022).
Although basic, I found the image on this sticker quite effective. The text reads “We Stand Together. Refugees are Welcome. Our Culture is Diverse” (Source: Hannah Awcock, 07/08/2022).
The top line of both of these stickers reads “No to EU miliarisation.” The second sentence on the top sticker reads “Retain the defence reservation”, (defence reservation could also be translated as defence opt-out I think) whilst the second sentence on the lower sticker says “Vote no to the abolition of the defence reservation.” Denmark has several opt-outs from EU co-operation. Until recently, one of those related to the Common Security and Defense Policy. In June 2022, a referendum was held to abolish this opt-out, prompted by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Around two-thirds of Danes voted ‘yes’, so Denmark now has the right to take part in the EU’s military operations (06/08/2022).
This is not a political sticker, but I thought I’d finish off with a little bit of positive affirmation from Christiania! (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 06/08/2022).

Edinburgh’s Political Stickers at the Festival of Social Sciences

On the 28th of October I ran an event as part of the ESRC’s annual Festival of Social Sciences. It was called Edinburgh’s Political Stickers: Creativity, Resistance, and Public Space, and it involved a sticker-making workshop. Inspired by photos of stickers taken in Edinburgh and a playlist of protest songs attendees designed their own political stickers. Everyone kept the stickers they made, but I photographed them for my sticker archive. Here, in all of their radical glory, are the results:

Dumfries’ DIY Statue

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a statue made of you? Unfortunately most people will never know, either because they are not considered worthy of a statue, or because they’re the kind of thing that tends to happen after you die. Well, if you are ever in Dumfries in southern Scotland, you can experience it for yourself with the DIY statue!

Having a great time striking a statuesque pose (Source: Graeme Awcock).

Situated near the Devorgilla Bridge over the River Nith, the DIY statue looks at first glance like a large, empty plinth. Look a little closer however, and there is a pair of shoe prints embedded in the top in front of the words ‘DIY STATUE’ and ‘DUMFRIES LOCAL HERO’ carved near the top. I was in Dumfries this summer with my parents, and when we found the DIY Statue I just had to give it a try. A man who was walking past as I did this gave me a cheer and a round of applause, which was a moment that was simultaneously lovely and highly embarrassing. The whole thing got me thinking about the nature of statues in public space, why we put them up, and how we interact with them.

The DIY statue without yours truly (Source: Hannah Awcock).
DUMFRIES LOCAL HERO is carved into the back of the plinth (Source: Hannah Awcock).

Most statues are ignored by most people most of the time. If we pass a statue frequently it tends to fade into the background, and we stop noticing it, if we ever did in the first place. There are occasions where statues become the centre of attention, however. For example, statues have played an important role in the UK’s recent ‘culture wars’, with debates raging about what do about statues of people whose legacies we are no longer proud of (rightly, I think!). Perhaps the most well-known example of this in Edinburgh is the statue of Henry Dundas on a 45m tall plinth in St Andrew Square. As Home Secretary, Dundas argued against the abolition of the slave trade. Statues like the DIY statue encourage people to interact them without commemorating highly problematic people.

Statues are a reflection of who society deems are important. As such, they also reflect society’s prejudices. One of my favourite facts about Edinburgh (not because I like it, but because it’s outrageous) is there are more statues of named animals in the city than there are of women. Recent research by Art UK has shown that just 2% of named statues in the UK represent people of colour. The DIY statue can be representative of all the people of Dumfries in a way that most conventional statues are not.

Another interesting question that the DIY statue raises is what kinds of acts make a person worthy of a statue. Most named statues are of people who did remarkable things in the fields of business, politics, sport, or culture. For example there is a large statue of Robert Burns, the famous Scottish poet who lived in the town for a while, at the top of Dumfries High Street. Decisions about who ‘deserves’ a statue are not simple, uncontested things. As controversies surrounding some statues such as the Dundas memorial in Edinburgh demonstrate, these decisions can be argued against and even reversed. The DIY statue encourages us to think about the standards we use to define a ‘local hero’. Should it only be people who are rich and famous? Why can’t we recognise people who ‘just’ contribute to the local community? After everything that’s happened the last few years, I think we all deserve to be celebrated a little bit just for existing. Thanks to the DIY statue anyone who can climb onto the plinth (it isn’t particularly accessible) can be commemorated, even temporarily.

The statue of poet Robert Burns in Dumfries town centre (Source: Hannah Awcock).

Even though they spend a lot of time being ignored by passersby and pooped on by birds, statues matter. The DIY statue may be just a fun piece of public art that encourages people to interact with public space, but I think it raises important questions about who we choose to commemorate and why. I haven’t been able to find out any information about the DIY statue, so if anyone knows when it was installed or whose idea it was, I would love to know!

Young People and Protest Exhibition at the National Justice Museum

On a recent trip south I wandered past the National Justice Museum in Nottingham and noticed that they had an exhibition on called ‘Young People and Protest’. I couldn’t resist going in to check it out, and I was pleasantly surprised. It is a small exhibition, but it does an excellent job of representing the concerns and interests of young people in an engaging and interactive way.

The Crime Gallery in the National Justice Museum contains a large mural by artist Neequay Dreph portraying important moments in the history of resistance (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

The National Justice Museum contains a Victorian courtroom, a Georgian gaol, and cells that date back to the Saxon era. You have to pay to visit these, but the museum also has some free exhibition spaces. The largest one of these, The Crime Gallery covers a broad range of themes including Protest, Riot and Terrorism. If I’m honest, this gallery was much more even-handed and critical than I thought it would be, encouraging visitors to think about what crime is, and who gets to decide what is (il)legal. This gallery contains a jukebox playing protest songs and a mural by local artist Neequay Dreph depicting local, national, and international protest events.

The Young People and Protest Exhibition features an artwork by Tim Onga, which combines designs by three young artists (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

The Young People and Protest exhibition was co-produced with thousands of young people and is designed to continue to evolve and change as more people interact with it. It doesn’t contain many historic artifacts (exceptions include button badges donated or lent to the Museum, and a bludgeon used by protesters during the 1887 Bloody Sunday demonstration in Trafalgar Square). Instead, it features objects co-produced by young people and artists, including placards, a mural, and an ever-changing wall of images from social media. This has the impact of foregrounding the opinions of young people, which is quite uncommon for a museum exhibition.

These placards were co-designed by young people during a series of workshops and designer and educator Saria Digregorio (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

The Gallery Guide is also worth checking out; it contains further information about the themes of the exhibition and highlights specific examples of recent protests that have been driven and shaped by young people, such as Black Lives Matter and the School Strike for Climate. It also hints at the huge variation of contexts for protest around the world, detailing the harsh treatment of young protesters in Tunisia, Belarus, Cuba, and Thailand. It may be becoming increasingly difficult to protest in the UK, but there are many other countries where the risks of protesting are even greater. Young people continue to accept those risks every day.

There are opportunities for visitors to interact with and respond to themes and issues raised by the exhibition, including altering newspaper headlines and answering the question ‘who has the privilege to protest?’ Sometimes these kinds of features can feel like an afterthought in museum exhibitions; either they are located right at the end of the exhibition, or the materials to take part have run out. This is not the case here – the activities are located in central spaces, and it feels like encouraging visitors to reflect on their own feelings and perspectives is a central goal.

Responses from exhibition visitors to the question ‘Who has the privilege to protest?’ (Photo: Hannah Awcock).

The Young People and Protest exhibition demonstrates what can be achieved when museums adopt creative approaches and engage with the communities they are attempting to represent. It is vibrant, engaging, and centres the voices and priorities of young people. The exhibition is open until October 2022, and I highly recommend going to check it out if you’re in the East Midlands before then.

Turbulent Scots: Lady Agnes Campbell (~1526-in or after 1591)

Turbulent Scots is a series of posts about radical individuals from history who were either born in, or had an impact on, Scotland. Most of the Turbulent Scots I feature are women, because their contribution to history has so often been overlooked. Any suggestions for future Turbulent Scots posts are very welcome. Next up is Lady Agnes Campbell, a member of the aristocracy in the sixteenth century who was skilled at politics and negotiation.

We tend to think of aristocratic women in the early modern period as powerless pawns, to be married off for political or financial gain. There are several examples, however, that prove that the situation was not always that simple. Elizabeth I is perhaps the most famous, but I recently came across the story of another, Lady Agnes Campbell.

Agnes Campbell was born in around 1526, the second daughter and fifth child of Janet Gordon and Colin Campbell, the third Earl of Argyll. She was well educated at the Scottish court, learning to speak multiple languages. In 1545 she married James MacDonald of Dunyvaig and the Glens, chief of one of the branches of Clan Donald. Over the next twenty years she had five children. During this period there was a struggle between Irish, English, and sometimes Scottish aristocracy for control of Northern Ireland. The MacDonalds of Dunyvaig had started settling in Antrim, and sometimes worked with the local O’Neill clan against the English, but at other times their interests clashed dramatically. On 2nd May 1565 James and his brother Sorley Boy were defeated in battle and captured at Glenshesk in Ireland by Shane O’Neill. James died from his injuries in captivity in August. Shane was assassinated by the MacDonalds in 1567, and the relationship between Sorley Boy and Shane’s successor, Turlough Luineach O’Neill improved so much that on 5th August 1869 Agnes married Turlough.

Agnes took more than 1000 redshanks (Highland infantry mercenaries who fought for Irish chieftans) to Ulster when she got married. In 1570 and 1571, Agnes returned to Scotland to recruit more redshanks for her husband’s cause. The following year, Walter Devereux, the Earl of Essex, was providing military support to English colonists trying to settle in Ulster. In December Agnes left for Scotland, taking a large number of redshanks with her. The English hoped that Agnes’ marriage was collapsing, but actually she was swapping the men for fresh mercenaries. The Earl of Essex withdrew in 1575, after Agnes had negotiated significant land grants for Turlough. Agnes frequently acted as Turlough’s delegate in negotiations. This may have been because it provided him with distance from any agreements and allowed him to go back on his word if it became convenient later, but it was also widely acknowledged that Agnes was a skilled negotiator. Her support for Turlough was invaluable in driving away the Earl of Essex.

In November 1575, Agnes and Turlough met with Henry Sidney, the Lord Deputy of Ireland. Turlough offered to submit to Sidney’s authority in return for an Earldom, land grants, and recognition of Agnes’ sons claims to the Glens in Scotland (Sorley boy, Agnes’ former brother-in-law, also claimed the Glens). Despite Sidney demanding that Agnes stop bringing redshanks from Scotland to Ireland to fight for her husband, she continued to do so. The English believed she had significant influence over Turlough, and she was also seen as a powerful political force in her own right.

In September 1579, Turlough refused to negotiate with Elizabeth I’s representatives without his wife. Throughout the 1580s, Agnes continued to travel back and forth to Scotland to make sure that support for her husband remained strong. She also supported the interests of her sons; she negotiated land for them, and intervened in disputes. In March 1588 she traveled to Edinburgh to plead with James VI on her son’s behalf. She was back in Scotland in April 1590, but after that she disappears from the records.

The further back in time you go, the harder it is to find information about remarkable women. This is not because they didn’t exist, but because they weren’t considered worthy of being recorded. Lady Agnes Campbell was one such remarkable woman, and we do know a bit about her, probably because of her status as an aristocrat. She played a significant role in Irish resistance to English colonisation, she was a skilled negotiator, and a powerful political presence in her own right.

Sources and Further Reading

Barry, Judy. “Campbell, Lady Agnes. Last modified October 2009, accessed 17th May 2022. Available at

Undiscovered Scotland. “Lady Agnes Campbell.” No date, accessed 17th May 2022. Available at

Walshe, Helen Coburn. “Campbell, Lady Agnes.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Last modified 3rd January 2008, accessed 17th May 2022. Available at [Subscription required to access].

Edinburgh’s Stickers: Ukraine

Some ribbons in the colours of the Ukrainian flag tied around a lamppost in the Meadows (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 12/03/22).

Since the Russian Army’s invasion of Ukraine on 24th February 2022, there has been an international outpouring of condemnation of Russia’s actions, and solidarity for the people of Ukraine. People have donated goods, time, and money to help those whose lives have been turned upside down by yet another senseless war. That solidarity has also found its way onto city streets in the form of ribbons, posters, and stickers, often using the blue and gold of the Ukrainian flag.

This is the first sticker relating to Ukraine that started appearing in Edinburgh, only a week after the invasion. The QR code links to a list of resources and websites for donating to/supporting Ukraine (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 02/03/2022).
This is technically two strips of tape rather than a sticker, but it is a good illustration of how easy it can be to convey a message of support. The vibrant colours and simple design of the Ukrainian flag make it instantly recognisable and easy to replicate (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 12/03/2022).
Although you can replicate the Ukrainian flag with coloured tape, stickers of it have been popping up all over Edinburgh too (Photo: Hannah Awcock. 15/03/2022).
This design combines the Ukrainian flag with the ‘peace’ hand gesture (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 13/03/2022).
This sticker also utilises the Ukrainian flag. According to Google Translate, it means ‘Fuck Off Putin’ in Croatian (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 05/04/2022).
This is the Ukrainian coat of arms. It is a trident, based on the seal of Volodymyr, the first Great Prince of Kyiv, who ruled in the late 10th and early 11th centuries (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 13/03/2022).
This design also uses the Ukrainian coat of arms (Photo: 05/04/2022).
Other stickers choose to focus on the orchestrator of the invasion rather than Ukraine. Putin has always been a controversial figure, and I did find the occasional sticker criticising him before the invasion, but the number and variety has increased dramatically since February 2022 (Photo: Hannah Awcock: 13/03/2022).
(Photo: Hannah Awcock, 13/03/2022).
This sticker doesn’t directly refer to the invasion of Ukraine, but LGBTQIA+ people in Ukraine fear persecution if the Russian invasion is successful. Whilst it is legal to be gay or transgender in Russia, it is also legal to discriminate against LGBT people because of their sexuality or gender identity (Photo: Hannah Awcock: 13/03/2022).
I didn’t want to give Putin the last word in this blog post, even a dragged-up version of him! This feels like a better message to end on (Photo: Hannah Awcock, 12/03/2022).

Turbulent Scots: Ethel Moorhead, 1869-1955

Regular readers of this blog will be familiar with the Turbulent Londoners posts, where I celebrate the lives of Londoners who have played a part in the city’s rebellious history. As I recently moved to Edinburgh, I’ve decided to take a look at some of the women who made an impact on Scotland’s radical history. Next up is Ethel Moorhead, radical suffragette and artist.

Ethel Moorhead (centre) on trial in Glasgow in 1913 with Dorothea Chalmers Smith (Source: Crown Copyright, National Records of Scotland, HH16/40).

On a recent visit to the National Wallace Monument in Stirling, a towering celebration of Scottish nationalism and masculinity, I did not expect to find any reference to the kind of history I write about on this blog. I was pleasantly surprised, therefore, to find a reference to artist and suffragette Ethel Moorhead in the electronic display about the Wallace Sword. In September 1912, Ethel smashed the glass case containing the sword that allegedly belonged to William Wallace in a protest demanding the right to vote for women, and was sentenced to 7 days in prison for her troubles. I set out to learn more about this brave woman who clearly had a flair for the dramatic, and I was not disappointed. Ethel was one of Scotland’s most famous suffragettes, and for good reason.

Ethel Moorhead was born in Kent in 1869, one of six children of a military surgeon. Her childhood, and much of her adult life as well, was spent moving; the family never stayed in one place for long. By the end of the 1800s, however, they were in Scotland. Encouraged by their father, Ethel’s sister Alice qualified as a doctor in 1893 and began practicing in Dundee. Ethel studied art in Paris during the 1890s, supported financially by Alice, but at the turn of the century she was living in Dundee with her parents and one of her brothers. Her first paintings were exhibited at the Dundee Graphics Art Society in 1901, and were well received. She had a studio in Dundee and exhibited her work in galleries across the UK. Her mother died in 1902, and Alice looked after her father until his death in 1911. During this period the pair were close, and Ethel’s father supported both her painting and her activism.

Ethel joined the Dundee branch of the Women Social and Political Union in 1910, and threw herself into the militancy the WSPU was famous for. She was arrested and imprisoned multiple times, often under false names, went on hunger strike several times, and gained the dubious accolade of being the first suffragette to be force fed in Scotland. In December 1910, she threw an egg at Winston Churchill during a political meeting in Dundee (the egg missed). A month later, Ethel became Dundee’s first tax resister. Suffragettes argued that women should not have to pay taxes to a government that they have no say in, so some refused to pay their tax bill. Bailiffs would confiscate goods from the women’s houses to cover the missing tax. A silver candelabra was taken from Ethel, then promptly bought back by her friends when it was put up for auction.

Ethel moved to Edinburgh after her father’s death. In March 1912 she was arrested in London for smashing 2 windows. In September, she wrapped the stone she used to smash the case of the Wallace Sword in a piece of paper that read “Your liberties were won by the sword. Release the women who are fighting for their liberties.” Her actions symbolically linked the suffragette’s fight for the vote with the Scottish fight for freedom. In an October, Ethel was ejected from a meeting in Edinburgh’s Synod Hall for trying to ask questions. She later tracked down the man responsible, a teacher, and attacked him with a dog whip in his classroom. In December, she went on hunger strike after being arrested in Aberdeen.

Although she never had a leadership role in the WSPU, by 1913 Ethel was one of the most famous suffragettes in Scotland due to her brazen defiance of authority. In January, she was sentenced to 30 days in prison for throwing cayenne pepper into the eyes of a police constable, but was released after just 2 days because she was on hunger strike. In July Ethel was sentenced to eight months in prison for attempted ‘fire raising’, but was again quickly released because of a hunger strike. This was the period when the Cat and Mouse Act was in full effect – hunger striking suffragettes were released from prison, then rearrested once they recovered.

Ethel was not a well behaved prisoner. She had a reputation for destroying her cell, and refusing to cooperate with prison authorities. She complained about her treatment and prison conditions frequently and publicly. Suffragettes argued that they should be treated as political prisoners rather than criminals, and often actively resisted the prison system. The hunger strikes were a part of that. Ethel was rearrested in 1914, and became the first suffragette in Scotland to be force fed in Calton Jail in Edinburgh. She was released after catching double pneumonia, and her treatment caused outrage in Scotland. Force feeding had been used on hunger striking suffragettes in England since 1909, and people were enraged that Scottish authorities would also resort to such cruel and violent treatment. It did not deter Ethel however, and she was almost certainly involved in Fanny Parker’s attempt to burn down Robert Burns’ cottage in July 1914.

At the outbreak of the First World War the British government gave suffragettes an amnesty in exchange for a promise that they would halt their activism. Ethel threw her energies into the National Service Organisation, set up by another suffragette group, the Women’s Freedom League. The Organisation helped women to find war work, and also campaigned for them to be paid fairly. After the war, Ethel spent many years travelling Europe. She launched and co-edited This Quarter, an art and literature journal. She died in a care home on 4th March 1955.

On hearing the word ‘suffragettes,’ many people will think of the Pankhursts, but might not know any other names of women who fought for the right to vote. Many women deserve to be remembered for their brave and defiant actions, not least Ethel Moorhead, who fought with words as well as eggs, stones, and dog whips.

Sources and Further Reading

Henderson, Mary. Ethel Moorhead: Dundee’s Rowdiest Suffragette. No date, accessed 23 February 2022. Available at:

Leneman, Leah. “Moorhead, Ethel Agnes Mary.” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Last modified 23 September 2004, accessed 23 February 2022. Available at: (Subscription required to access).

National Records of Scotland. “Ethel Moorhead (alias Edith Johnston, Mary Humphreys, Margaret Morrison) (1869 – 1955)”. No date, accessed 23 February 2022.