Cloth & Memory {2}

‘Twenty-three international artists, both emerging and established, respond to an exceptional space, with remarkable work’, curated by Professor Lesley Millar, June Hill and Jennifer Hallam

Opens 18th August 2013 at Salts Mill, Saltaire.

Salts Mill, Saltaire & the Textile Trade: fabric of life, fabric of society

Research up until December 2012  included:

  • Visit to exhibition Cloth & Memory 1, at Salts Mill, 2012
  • Site-visit early September 2012 to research the roof space with Lesley Millar, Jennifer Hallam & June Hill.
  • Further visit 29th September, Saltaire & exhibition ‘Silk’ at Cartwright Hall, Bradford.
  • Salts Mill DVD.
  • Web based research.
  • Museum visits & prior research into the woolen mills of Derbyshire & Wales.
  • ‘Titus of Salts’. (ISBN: 0903775050)
  • ‘Wool City’ Mark Keighley (ISBN: 97809555993-1-6)
  • ‘Textile Voice: A Century of Mill Life’, O.Howarth, T.Smith (ISBN: 0946657572)

Seen on the page I was struck by these words, text that makes clear the connection of life with the mill, ‘The mill owned your house, it controlled your working day, determined friendships, partnerships and even your health, it organised your leisure time, controlled your vote, oversaw worship’… (and education). A small child would run errands for the mill and once employed a life could be spent working at the mill. The building held the bodies and thoughts of hundreds of people. The fabric of the building of Salts Mill interests me, it would have born witness to the sounds of so many, such large crowds of workers, there is something awesome when considering this highly specialised society. The jobs the people undertook shaped and became one with them.

The impact of the textile trade upon our language is pertinent, the fabric of that language references the fabric too of living, words associated with the business of weaving and with activity associated with the mechanics of living together and with the working of the machines.

The Making of Fabric and The Fabric of Making

I  worked with the words associated with the manufacture of cloth undertaken in this mill, words which are still in use, many of which may be non-specific we twist, mill, scour, draw but in different ways. Others are directly linked to the industry such as tentering and warping. The way ‘communities’ use language is about culture and place and can bear testament to the memory we have as a collective of place, of work, of ourselves.

The Making of Fabric is an installation of specially commissioned woven cloth manufactured by William Halstead, Bradford, in which these words are embedded into the selvedge edge.

The Fabric of Making is a text work, a ‘poem’ of words associated with the manufacture of cloth and the human part in the mechanised and highly repetitive processes.

Me_at_Salts_2InstallationInstallation_02PassingWeaving the Words 02Weaving the Words 01