I got chance to go over to The Peoples History Museum this month to take part [with Jade and Zi from work] in what I thought was a talk but pleasantly turned out to be a workshop. It was called The Fabric of Protest and was organised by Helen Mather and Lisa Gillan [email@example.com]. Helen is an independent artist, painter who is interested in banners [and quilts as paintings as I discovered through chatting – there were so many connections].
The workshop that I took part in was one in a series in which people to come along on a monthly basis, in earlier meeting that I had not attended they had come across the story of the Matchstick Girls. This is very basic but essentially, in a factory down south, girls of 14 and maybe younger were employed to make matches and pack them up. Part of the process involved putting the matches in there mouths and as a result they would develop horrendous mouth cancers. Alongside this was the very poor standards of working conditions and at the time, they were considered as unskilled workers and were therefore unrepresented by a Union [which only worked for skilled workers at the time]. On one day a girl was fired which resulted in the entire workforce walking out and marching down to the local Union representative to demand support. This, I understand was the birth of the modern Union’s.
This workshop had decided to make a banner that represented this action, previous weeks had seen the design for the banner develop and this session saw the beginning of sewing happening. We managed in a=our small groups to get the lettering cut out and started some sewing before the session finished and for other in the next groups to continue with. There were so many similar practices happening in this event and the MQB, there shared experience of working on one item was particularly rich.
I am hoping to get along to another session in the future before it is finished but it is during the week and so may not be possible.
Banner section, making some text look like a match.
Top section of the banner; being laid out.
Design for the Banner
Info wall with highlights of research found during previous meetings.
The phrase ‘It Just Went Like Tinder’ was a term used by someone at the time of the incident to describe the reaction of the girls / workers when they decided to take action and not stand for the mistreatment any more.
I cannot remember the name or date of the event but I understand the banner is going to be used as a backdrop for a musical event in Manchester during December. I believe the singer is possibly an artist in resident at the Manchester Peoples History Museum and is doing a concert in response to this residency. Will endeavor to find out more.
textiles – felt – ready made objects – shower curtains. weaves between the structure of frameworks she creates, fluid mature of textile. Is a weaver and considers grid like influences [of weave] with connections to labour, mass production and capitalism.
2013 Painted, welded steel structure, woven mixed material, epoxy, di ! erent fruit peel 186x130x82 cm
Camilla Steinum. Det Barberes Bak Vinduene. Foto: Øystein Thorvaldsen
I have selected these two images due to the slightly unweildy look of the textile, they seem at odds with the clean design of the framework – which could have been a simple DIY job [although it may not be].
conflated personal histories [and collective histories] in response to the history of textiles. Particular interest in ‘summer & winter’ weaves and their doublesidedness. interested in the role of craft and its relationship to political activism. CELEBRATION OF HOBBY CRAFT ASSOCIATIONS WITHOUT RIDICULE OF THE PEOPLE WHO PARTAKE IN SUCH ACTIVITIES.
This isn’t the first or last reference to identity politics in Faught’s work, and the history of the role of craft – textiles in particular – in and as political activism is clear both here and in previous works, eg, in his replication of sections of the AIDS Memorial Quilt.
When the case study came to an end, a few people asked if we could continue to make quilts and meet up. Although it would not run as a case study, I was keen to keep a level of engagement with communal making and, I had really enjoyed doing it. The women who wished to continue had so many interesting things to talk about and so we have continued to meet every other Monday evening. instead of paying for the village hall, we meet and work in each others houses which has bought further intimacy and friendship to the making of quilts.
We approached it a little differently in that we did decide as a group on a design and the fabric we would use. I had purchased a book called Modern Bee and we have taken inspiration from one of the designs in their, we could have followed the instructions word for word but as a group we preferred a more relaxed approach and used it as a guide.
Everyone bought in samples and leftovers we already had in our stashes and I provided a lovely length of vintage liberties fabric that had been donated by a local person when they saw my posters for the original MQB.
We worked with all that we had with the only ‘interference’ being that we dyed up a batch of fabric in a grey to pull it all together a little more.
Despite not officially documenting this particular adventure with the MQB, I have got a few photos of work in progress. In the future, we do have some thoughts of perhaps collaborating on a piece specifically for this research – but it is early days at the moment.
Quilting in progress, MQB. [Perren, 2015]
Working on the edge, MQB. [Perren, 2015]
Ref: Conner, L. Modern Bee. 2013. Lafayette, Stash Books.
When it come to textiles, for the last few months the focus has been on quilting. I’m quite happy with this but as a mum I often find myself at locations waiting for one of my daughters, quilts are not exactly portable so I have used the time to explore textiles in other ways in more bite size pieces. Much like the amateur knitter sitting at the side of the local pool, I found myself doing some embroidery [although I would consider them to be drawings].
These samples have again allowed me to engage with a slowness of pace in working and the ability to use time in a manner that I could have some autonomy. I believe these approaches to stitch might be worth further development with regards to narrative and materiality.
I have used the quilt top / sandwich to develop some ideas with sequins. Think in this case it has not worked, not sure why but it feels like it is two separate things forced together. I am going to keep going with this though but it will need more thought. Once I get a little more time I would like to work on a piece a lot more heavily, at the moment it seems too polite. Need to take it to extremes.
I need to gain more control of the straight line, particularly the machine sewn ones. I am ok with the mix of machine and hand sewn lines but it just needs a lot more of a lot more things?
I decided it was time to start and develop a few further quilting skills and explore possibilities of composition. Although I am not sure if quilting will be the best direction to go in terms of practice, my gut feeling suggests keep going with it. Not sure why I am a little nervous about it, I suspect it is because of its loaded nature but I believe that is exactly why I should be pursuing it further.
This is a quilt top that I actually made from a plan as opposed to ‘lets see what happens’. If this work is going to develop as image, then I will need to gain a lot more control and understanding of the technicalities of quilting. If the direction becomes more about the act of making then this may be less of an issue.
Working over a frame or on a machine can cause physical pains in your arms and back, after an hour or 5 you find yourself having to get up and stretch and are incredibly aware of the force of labour.
Upon review of some of the photographs I was taking during the quilting case study I found further clarity of this experience and decided to start observing the form as a mode to express notions of active [slow] labour.
Hunched Forms. [Perren, 2015]
Concentration [Perren, 2015]
I created a series of about 20 drawings of these shapes and attempted to capture both the slowness and repetitive action that was being carried out. I don’t believe I quite captured it but I am keen on developing this perhaps at a later stage. It was created using a layout pad, I enjoy being able to see through from one drawing to the next.
Hunch Study 1, Pen on Layout Paper, 50 x 30 cm. [Perren, 2015]
Hunch Study 2, Pen on Layout Paper, 50 x 30 cm. [Perren, 2015]
Hunch Study 3, Pen on Layout Paper, 50 x 30 cm. [Perren, 2015]
Hunch Study 4, Pen on Layout Paper, 50 x 30 cm. [Perren, 2015]
Hunch Study 5, Pen on Layout Paper, 50 x 30 cm. [Perren, 2015]
As a development, I began to explore a range of stuffed forms and explored laying 2d work out that suggested form.
Stuffed Hunched Form. Cotton and stuffing, 34 x 27 inches [Perren, 2015]
Stuffed Hunched Form: detail. [Perren, 2015]
Study of form with a flat quilt. Cotton and plastic box. [Perren, 2015]
So the first quilt is finished [evening group] but the evening one has to have the binding added still. We spent almost twice as long as had been intended but there was a great sense of accomplishment about what we had done. One member took the quilt home once it was off the frame and added a ‘monogrammed’ logo. Each member included their initials somewhere on the quilt which will be donated to a local women’s refuge [as chosen by the group].