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Gallery Stratford is now selling tote bags made from the recycled banners that once advertised past art exhibitions at the gallery.Galen Simmons, The Stratford Beacon Herald, Publishing date:Feb 07, 2021 Original article here. Gallery Stratford has partnered with Stratford’s Tall Man Promo to create unique tote bags made from recycled banners from the art gallery’s past exhibitions. Pictured, Gallery Stratford director/curator Angela Brayham and Tallman owner J. Oosterom show off some of the bags now available for purchase at $25 apiece. Galen Simmons/The Beacon Herald/Postmedia Network Supporters of Gallery Stratford can now take a piece of its history home in the form of tote bags made from recycled banners once used to advertise past exhibits.

The bags, being sold for $25 apiece while supplies last in support of future gallery exhibitions and programming, are the result of a partnership between Gallery Stratford and Stratford marketing and design company TallMan.Promo.

“When we decided to reopen in August, I wanted to do banners outside. (Tall Man owner) J. Oosterom and I have partnered on various projects to support the gallery, and I asked him if he can do the banners for me,” Brayham said. “So when we were hanging them, we started talking (and) the one thing I hate about that kind of product is they just go to landfill. We’ve got this three-month use and then what do you do with this banner?”

Having recently rediscovered a number of these vinyl banners that had been stored instead of thrown away, Brayham and Oosterom came up with the idea of repurposing them into what Brayham called wearable art pieces.

“Fifteen years ago, we started doing inflatable advertising, so we do fabric and sewing for those. … This is something that is relatively simpler than doing large inflatables, so we kind of said, ‘All right, let’s figure this out,’” ” Oosterom said. “The number of bags we get out of a banner depends actually on how well the banner has survived over the time period.”

The number of bags Oosterom and his team can create out of a single banner also depends on how much of the banner is covered in usable design as opposed to blank space.

“They’ve kind of got this artsy, industrial chic … and what I’m going to do with every bag I sell, I will stick the catalogue or the handout from that show (those banners) came from. So in case you didn’t see the show, you’ll have the context for where that little piece of artwork came from. … So hopefully, people will start wearing these around town and they’ll be able to recognize, ‘Oh, my bag goes with that bag.’ So I think it’s kind of this neat sort of way of connecting people as well,” Brayham said.

While supplies of the bags made from existing banners are limited, Brayham said her goal now is to have Oosterom and his team create tote bags from new exhibition banners. That will keep the material out of landfill while giving patrons a way to show their support for the gallery.

For more information or to purchase a bag, call Gallery Stratford at 519-271-5271 or email Brayham at [email protected].