I've been fascinated by the embellished cloths of earlier generations, the care that went into perfecting the even stitching and crochet work, the cut work and embroidery. Tray clothes, chair back covers,doilies and runners, little cloths for wash stands and side tables, for dressing tables and more. I started life in the last years of the great cotton trade; mills were everywhere in the North West of England and no-one questioned that they might one day vanish from the landscape. As a schoolchild I saw inside the local mill where cotton arrived in bales to be cleaned and carded before being spun then woven on busy looms, it was a part of our education to see how cotton cloth was made.
So the cloths represent a phase in history when individual artisan workers were forced to adopt a lifestyle dominated by machines; to accept the factory system in place of freedom to work as and when. They also represent the theft of trade from other countries, and the exploitation of millions through the slave trade, The exploitation of poor with the condemning of little children to mill work for long hours at the time when others of higher income families had time to sew the domestic cloths I now use.
They also represent the movement in society towards a more democratic parliament in which the weavers and spinners of the North West played a large part.
more to follow