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My Sisters Hugged Me To Work

As part of the Any Work the Wanted Doing exhibition at the Leeds Industrial Museum in autumn 2023, I have been commissioned to produce a piece of work responding the research of independent curator Gill Crashaw's research into disabled mill workers in the 19th Century textile industry.

This is a collaborative piece of work between myself, and writer and poet Becky Cherriman.  We have produced a multi-art hanging, which incorporates photographs of mill workers, stitch, poetry and found materials from local mills.  

Our source materials are the real life stories of disabled mill workers, photographs of mills, mill machinery and workers, textiles and fibres – some of which have been made in Yorkshire in the few remaining working mills.  From this, we will produce a mixed media piece that reflects aspects of the lives of disabled textile workers over the 19th and 20th centuries. Embedded in the storytelling will be the difficulties faced by disabled workers, the dangers of the workplace, and the way that the labour of disabled people has been and is valued less than non-disabled labour. 


Our work is informed by the issues facing disabled people in the workplace both then and now, and the complex challenge of needing to sell our labour to live and needing to be creative and productive human beings.  By creating a composite work from different workers’ lives and including found fabrics, words and phrases, including vivid mill language, we aim to tell an authentic story of this community that has resonance today.

The exhibition opens in September.  I can't tell you or show you much about the full piece yet, but here are some images on it in the making.

You can find out more about the exhibition and the other artists involved here. And find out more about Becky Cherriman's work on her website here.

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