Mining Textiles

Activity: Talk or presentation typesInvited talk


This paper draws on the imaginative relationships between the contrary worlds of coal-mining and textiles. The enquiry originated as part of a site-specific commission and residency at Snibston Discovery Museum in the UK, place of a former coal mine. The arrangement of functionally ambiguous and ephemeral artefacts placed within the hard and utilitarian landscape of British industrial production, provided the context for reframing metaphorical relationships between the macro-scale of the geological seam, managed and exploited for its material resources (through engineering operations) and the micro-scale of the stitched seam, whose tightness, looseness, slackness (or frayed condition) affords varied natures of the fashioned garment. In this respect a range of outcomes involved the creation of Pitt Brow Lass dresses dyed from natural sources collected at Snibston spoil heap and an inflatable full-scale replica of an auxiliary fan (also known as a booster fan) used to boost the air supply to new coal seams.
Ideas, materials and practices employed in this work continue into a subsidiary Arts Council funded commission proposal for an inflatable sculpture at Barnsley in West Yorkshire. This has involved archival research alongside improvisations of creative experiment in response to Barnsley’s industrial heritage of open air linen bleaching and underground coal-mining. Intrepidly putting two differing things together - surveyor’s notebook of Royston Drift Mine, Silkston Seam in Barnsley and an advertising postcard for sun-bleached Barnsley Linen - is a matter of disorientation and reorientation and thinking through ideas relating to coal-mining and textiles production anew. In this context fresh air is conceived as a vital source for a miner’s well-being, be it literally a flow of air used in mining underground as much as fresh air captured in the whiteness of linen above the ground to signpost ideas of art, environment and responsibility and their meanings within cultural production.
Period28 May 2018
Event title4th International Congress on Visual Culture
Event typeConference
Conference number4
LocationRome, ItalyShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational