Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Flag Institute flag and emblem

On 18th November 2016, the United Kingdom's flag charity and representative on the International Federation of Vexillological Associations (FIAV) formally adopted a new flag and emblem at their council meeting.
The former emblem was a blue flag with a cross of St George forming a horizontal "V" shape across the field.
Flag of the Flag Institute 1971 - 2016
This flag was founded by the Dr William Crampton around the time the organisation was founded. The Cross of St George representing the founding date of St George's Day (23 April) and the "V" for vexillology the word for the study of flags.
It is a very good flag, there were however concerns that for a UK national organisation it was to English focused rather than British focused; and hence might discourage Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish membership, that of any of the Dependencies and Overseas Territories.
A fair point as a non English, Briton my self I can say that I don't really identify with the Cross of St George on its own, however I also should say that the former FI flag did not put me off the organisation, and once I understood the symbolism of it representing the founding day I found it easier to identify with.
In 2015 the FI asked for submissions and ideas for a new logo or flag in their newsletter. I even sent in a design combining the Union Flag and Sheet bend know (international symbol of vexillology) in the form of an ensign. You can read about that post here. 
The new flag is based on the lower quadrant of the Union Jack. Which is not at all surprising many nation vexillology organisation base their flags on their national flags or symbols.
New flag of the Flag Institute
The design is stylized to represent forward movement. I admit that this makes an Okay logo (although it does slightly remind me of the logo of the UK Space Agency), However I do not think it make a good physical flag, and the FI flag does function as a real flag not just a logo. It was designed by Graham Bartram and Philip Tibbetts, who have designed dome real good flags in the past, but I'm sorry to say I don't think this will be included as one of their greatest works. I think the previous flag was by far better.  However it was democratically chosen by the FI council however I still think I might have ago at designing a better one incase they change their mind.
Although I already designed an alternative in the form of an ensign which would work as a flag, i thought I might try one that works both as a flag and logo.
I think the thinking behind both FI flags was good (although the end result of the new one wasn't), so I thought of combining them. A sort of Union Jack 'V' shape instead of a St George one. This is what I came up with:

I feel this works better as it is clearly based on and reflective of the Union Flag, but is distinctly different and dosn't look like someone just cut up a flag and ran it up a pole.  Alternatively you could place the horizontal red bar in the fly with the 'V' pointing towards it to give the impression of a forward pointing arrow. Personally however I think the solid red bar looks better in the hoist.
I certainly think it works better as a flag when you compare it to this image of HQS Wellington (the FI postal address) i prepared:

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Nigel Johnston's NI flag

Apologise for the lack of activity at the moment I am currently very busy, but I have material for a few posts waiting which I will try to get up when I can.
About a year ago Nigel Johnston posted a design on the New Flag for Northern Ireland facebook page. It was a green/blue bicolour with six hexagons in the middle. It is a most interesting design certainly one of my favourites, but there are a few aspects I don't quite like about it.
Northern Ireland flag proposal by Nigel Johnston

  1. It ignores the rule of tincture. Although this is a rule of heraldry rather than vexillology, it is generally considered good flag design practice to observe this rule. (although for all the rules of flag design there are example of flags that break them and still manage to be rather good flags). 
  2. It is rather cooperate looking, This is a major one, the design has the feel of a logo rather than a national flag, which is a major flaw as it is a really clever combination of shapes and colours. 
however despite that I think this is fixable.
I played with it a little bit, and decided to add a white dividing line between the green and blue. I also changed the colour of the hexagons so that they reverse the colours of the field. i.e green on blue and blue on green, with the centre ones being divided in the middle. 
I also coloured the centre star white to make it stand out a little more and added a red hand of Ulster in the middle. 
However in the spirit of Johnston's original flag I refrained from using the traditional heraldic red hand and opted instead for a red hand print, like a child's hand. This was idea I think was first voiced by Dr Dominic Bryan for his own proposal in 2010, and I think it's a good twist for a traditional symbol on a modernist mix of colours and shapes. As Well as be a recognisable regional symbol it is also a great way to symbolise the future. 
Lastly I moved the charge off centre towards the hoist.
I admit it still has a little bit of that corporate feel about it, but that is probably unpreventable when not using traditional heraldic symbols. I do think however that by taking the above mentioned steps that the corporateness of it is greatly reduced and it has more of a flag like feeling. 
Of course the original symbolism of Nigel Johnston's flag was the star representing the six NI counties and the hexagons reflective of the Giant's Causeway, which is maintained.
The colours were reflective of those descended from Gaelic Irish roots and agriculture (green) and the social and cultural connections between Northern Ireland and Scotland and the sea (blue). 
while these are all good things to symbolise I feel that trying to symbolise two communities by colours is doomed to failure, as by the very nature of flags one will always be seen to be the more senior. Plus by moving the dividing line off centre greater emphasis is put on blue which could be perceived to be more in favour of those of Scottish decent. 
I think therefore it would be better to state that both green and blue are traditional colour historically associated with not just Northern Ireland but the island of Ireland in general. In fact green, white and blue are popular colours for NI international football supporters and are also used by other international sports teams both all island and Northern Ireland specific. 
The main purpose of moving the charge of the flag off centre is actually a little bit of an optical illusion, as when the flag is flying it gives the impression of the charge being centred, and it is also more easy to identify when the flag is at rest on a pole (when no wind is blowing):
As this doctored picture of the NI Assembly building shows:
It is important to remember that flags are moving 3D objects and not static 2D images on a screen or page, They also have to be recognisable at a distance. These is I think where Mr Johnston's original proposal let down. However it was still an excellent design with potential, which I hope with my alternate adjustments can be exploited. 

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Royal Tank Regiment Camp Flag

This is a post I wanted to do a couple of days ago to mark the 99th anniversary of the battle of Cambrai (20th November 1917), but due to other priorities had to be put back till today.
The Royal Tank Regiment is the oldest tank unit in the world, Originally known as the Tank Corps and then Royal Tank Corps before being given the title of regiment, was founded in the First World War to operate the new invention of tanks.  The Camp flag of the regiment (not the ceremonial standard or colour) is a horizontal tricolour of green, red and brown and features the regiment's cap badge featuring an original tank. 
This is one of my favourite military flags for a number of reasons. Its a simple pattern which minus the cap badge is confined to three colours, but mainly because of its history. It is the only camp flag of the British Army that I am aware of to be born in battle. 
Although not the first battle the tank was used in, the battle of Cambrai was the first where the tank played a decisive role being deployed in large numbers and achieving a breakthrough.  The flag came from the Corps Commander Brigadier General Elles. When formed the Tank Corps had no unique colours or insignia, Brigadier Elles who lead from the front wanted something to distinguish his tank as the command vehicle, and decided to use a flag. After purchasing some coloured silk in town a homemade flag was stitched together and flown from the General's tank in the battle.
To the Green Fields Beyond, Cambrai, France, 20th November 1917 by David Pentland. Print can be purchased here
The colours of the flag are said to symbolise "from the mud of the trenches (brown), through the blood of the battlefield (red) and breaking through to the green fields beyond." However in reality the colours bore no significance in the battle. The flag was solely intended for the practical purpose of distinguishing the lead tank. The colours of the flag were a result of the limited coloured material available, and the symbolism attributed to the colours after the battle. The flag is still used in the camp flag of the RTR and is part of its history and tradition. More about the RTR including the flag can be seen in the short documentary seen here.


Friday, 18 November 2016

UK police badge redesigns Part 1

As far as British police badges go, most are pretty good, but I think some are rather generic. Most feature an eight pointed star generally (but not always) topped with a crown. In the centre of the star is a circular disk, with the name of the police force around it. Most have some sort of local or specific insignia in the centre but lots just have the Royal EIIR cypher. Personally I don't think the cypher is needed as the monarch and state is already represented by the crown. Here are just a few redesigns where I have replaced the cypher with something to represent the local area or region, starting with the largest police force in Britain,London's Metropolitan Police Service.
It uses the Westminster portcullis which appears on the Met's coat of arms.
For the Bedfordshire police I used the Bedfordshire coat of arms:
The Cumbria police badge features the white Grass of Parnassus flower found on both the flag of Cumberland (often mistaken for Cumbria) and the Cumbria flag.
Dorset Police badge design features a Dorset flag shield:
Likewise the Gloucestershire police badge features a county flag shield:
The Gwent police badge is slightly different, it is based on the Gwent banner, but with some slight differences mainly the dragon to distinguish it as this police force's jurisdiction expands beyond Monmouthshire. I also kept the Welsh text on the badge:

the Humberside police badge is also based on a coat of arms but differs slightly:


The Merseyside police badge redesign features three mural coronets from the Merseyside flag:


The redesign for the Nottinghamshire police badge featured the shield from the centre of the Nottinghamshire flag:
However I realize that the figure represents Robin Hood and felt it might be a bit ironic for the badge of law enforcement to feature an outlaw! So I also offer an alternative featuring the cross from the flag:
Other badge redesigns are that of the Ministry of Defence Police (not to be confused with the Royal Military Police which is a corps of the army)  and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary whose job is to police the police.
The MoD police badge redesign simply features the tri-service emblems of the swords (army), anchor (navy), and eagle (air force):
HM Inspectorate of Constabulary's badge redesign features a shield bearing scales of justice, the royal cypher and an olive wreath. However I consent that in this case it might be appropriate to just use the royal cypher as is done in the present badge. 
But perhaps the law enforcement organisation in need most of a badge redesign is the National Crime Agency (NCA) the British equivalent of the FBI. Although their current logo might work well as a logo, it doesn't really work as a badge, so this is my proposal:

It features the eight pointed star common to nearly all UK police forces, the crown and the royal arms to demonstrate its national jurisdiction. 


Wednesday, 9 November 2016

The US flag might get 51 stars

Hi all I am pleased to be back blogging, I have finished the print publication I mentioned and it is currently being submitted to potential publishers, I will of course update the blog on progress.
The world has today been focused on the result of the American presidential election, but there was another significant referendum in the United States yesterday that went largely unnoticed. The capitol Washington DC voted in a referendum to become a state. Although this of course has to be approved by congress, which may or may not happen. Washington DC is not part of a state so has no representation in Congress. This video helps explain:
If this application for statehood is approved it would make Washington DC the 51st state of the United States of America. If American tradition is followed then a star would be added to the canton of the US flag. Since 1960 the US flag has had an even and symmetrical 50 stars which an extra star would mess up, so what patterns could be used? The Puerto Rico statehood movement use a circular design, which harks back to the Betsy Ross design of the early US flag, except it now forms a sphere.
 The problem with this is that some people don't think that there should be a star in the centre of the formation, as this would imply that some state or states are more important than others rather than equal.
There are two other drafts that have been suggested, one with a "checkerboard" pattern
Another draft has a hexagonal pattern:

 I personally think this looks odd but perhaps thats because I am so used to seeing a symmetrical canton.
I like the Puerto Rico design. I think it tries to go back to the modern US flag roots of the Betsy Ross flag, however I think they went about it wrong. The hollow circle of stars a symbol of unity the world over possibly inspired by early American flags, notably in the European and African Union Flags. So my idea reverts to the hollow circle. Of course 51 stars is too many to fit into a single circle, but I was inspired by a variant of the 34 star flag (1861-1863) that made use of two circles:
This is my design for a 51 star Betsy Ross style US flag:
It keeps a symmetrical pattern, and all the stars are equal. In order to accommodate all the stars I had to make them a bit smaller and expand the blue canton so it now touches 9th red stripe instead of the 8th white stripe. As the hollow circle is a symbol of unity which is what the USA is probably in need of now I think the change is worth it and I think it works rather well, at least until Puerto Rico or another territory becomes a state and we need a 52 star flag lol. 

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

National Museum of the Royal Navy

This idea came to me after watching a BBC documentary about the restoration of HMS Caroline, which is a veteran of the 1st World War and currently being turned into a floating museum in Belfast's Titanic Quarter. Currently owned by the National Museum of the Royal Navy, seeing the shots of the ship it struck me that no flags were flying. In stark contrast to this 2006 photo from Wikipeadia which show Caroline in her glory;
When this photo was taken Caroline was still technically a serving warship! Although she hadn't put to sea since about 1930, she was used as a training ship and base for the Northern Ireland Royal Naval Reserve. (You may notice in this picture the flag of a Commodore of the Naval Reserve is flying from the mast). She was formally decommissioned about two years ago so no longer being a warship it would be inappropriate to continue to fly the white ensign and Union Jack. I am sure this is a situation found across most of the vessels owned by the National Museum of the Royal Navy across the country. Although some (including HMS Caroline I think) might be entitled to use the National Historic Fleet ensign, i though perhaps the National Museum of the Royal Navy should have its own ensign. This is my proposal:

A blue ensign as the National Museum is a public body. The badge in the fly features a shield with a Union Jack chief, with the cross of St George in the rest of the field. This is inspired by the White ensign, the national flag flown by British navy ships. It is of course topped by a Naval coronet/crown. 
A flag variant of the shield could be used as a jack:

The initials of the National Museum of the Royal Navy are on the white field. Although in the case of a jack the civil jack would probably be more appropriate as this is in effect the naval jack (Union Jack) with a white boarder. A variant of the ensign with letters:


Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Union of Commonwealth Realms

Before I start this post I would like to apologize for my lack of recent posts, this is due in part to research and study for a print publication I am currently working on, and it is taking up the greater part of my spare time, so post might be few and far between I'm afraid, but I will try to put one up every now and then.
Currently British politics is dominated (with a slight exception of regional elections in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) by the upcoming referendum on the United Kingdom's membership of the European Union. As usual I am not advocating any political opinion, but I was intrigued when I seen a hypothetical scenario. The scenario was the UK leaves and forms a free trade and movement zone, between the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. with certain joint institutions, rather similar to the European Union but more anglocentric. I even seen a potential flag for such a union by Zach Elsbury:
  It evokes the British ensign which not only includes the Union Flag but is the same style of flag used by Australia and New Zealand with a red field for Canada (the former flag of Canada was a red ensign). Its defaced with a shield quartered with the national plants of the four nations.
Inspired by this design I thought of having ago at a similar flag, with more emphasis of an international organisation rather than a colony. My first design was this:
Still inspired by an esign which has elements all of the four member states flags have in common,The Union Jack has official status in Canada and the UK, and appears on the Australian and New Zealand flags. it features the gold wreath and a globe. The roses form part of the cypher which is in the centre of all the commonwealth royal standards outside the UK, including those of Canada, New Zealand and Australia. The globe is from the flag of the Commonwealth of Nations. This flag is timeless as it has no direct symbolism to any individual state, meaning if a member leaves or other realms like Tuvalu or Jamacia join the flag doesn't require changing. However thinking the globe might look a little like a mock up British Empire flag, I decided to replace it with a crown, the symbol of the monarch which share:
I like this better as it is a simpler design and looks a little less cramped.