Cloth and Memory Exhibition

14th July – 27th August 2012
Beverly Ayling-Smith, Carol Quarini, Bob White

The creation of cloth is fundamental to the building of Salts Mill and the weavers, spinners and dyers who worked and lived there. The peeling paint in the derelict rooms reveals the layers beneath and echoes the layers of memories witnessed and contained within the building

It has been said that ‘it is virtually impossible to imagine memory – what it is, how it works, where it lies – without recourse to metaphor’ [1] and so artists have used cloth whose long association with the body throughout a lifetime and afterwards in death makes it uniquely placed to be used as a metaphor for grief, mourning and loss in contemporary art practice.

Mourning is a complex state with many stages through which we must pass in order to resolve our feelings about the deceased. It involves recognising and accepting the loss of a loved one and moving on to live our lives without them.

In this exhibition I have focused on the creation of textile pieces that evoke emotions such as melancholia, loss, absence and grief. During a visit to Salts Mill, I discovered a small room in the corner on one of the upper floors which, with its broken glass and peeling paint, had an atmosphere of abandonment and loss. I have installed some lengths of fabric, reminiscent of winding sheets or shrouds, and photographed to bring some of the atmosphere of the upper floor to the main exhibition area.

‘The three artists in this exhibition have developed these ideas around cloth and memory through their own concerns and media. All visited Salts Mill and Saltaire and have created their work as a response to the history of the place: the memory of cloth and the making of cloth that has seeped into the fabric of the building. Their works reference the importance of cloth as the accompanying witness to our life and the lives of others.’

Professor Lesley Millar Curator, Cloth and Memory exhibition

[1] Antze, P. Lambek M (1996) Tense past: cultural essays in trauma and memory p xi

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