Flags as Signs of identity

A Three Thousand Year Story

A talk by Graham Bartram – Chief Vexillologist at the Flag Institute

One of the most elegant and eye catching ways of identifying and celebrating places, routes and events is perhaps less often used in contemporary wayfinding design. But flags have been used since the earliest times for such purposes and, carefully employed, they can bring added character, especially where identity is an important consideration.
Tonight's talk will cover a short history of flags, from their origins in Ancient Egypt, Rome and Phoenecia, through the great Mediterranean trading cities, to the modern concept of a national flag. It will look at the basic principals of flag design, with examples from current affairs, such as the work being done on a new flag for New Zealand, and the development of county flags in the UK. The talk will discuss the importance of flags as national symbols, their use in modern nation building efforts and will consider how they can be used for functional and practical purposes to enhance our daily interaction with the built environment.

Graham Bartram is the Chief Vexillologist of the Flag Institute and has been interested in flags since he was a schoolboy in Ghana. He became professionally involved when, as a software design engineer, he worked on a CD-ROM atlas in the 1990’s and decided to sort out the flag images. Since then he has designed many new flags, including those of Tristan da Cunha, the UK Border Force, the UK Supreme Court, the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant and St Margaret’s Westminster. He edits the MOD’s flag book (actually a website), BR20 Flags of All Nations, and advises the UK Government on flags and flag protocol. Since 1999 he has been the Secretary-General for Congresses of FIAV, the international flag organization.

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