'Clocking On' is the outcome of research undertaken within the Cotton Exchange project, which examined the social, cultural and historical legacies of cotton manufacture and trade in North West England and North West India. Cotton Exchange operated within the context of a larger collaborative project, Global Threads, one of the strands of the Cultural Olympiad Project Stories of the World.
The award of a residency within Cotton Exchange enabled me to take part in a curatorial research visit to Ahmedabad, Bhuj and the textile villages of Kutch, to gain insights into the decline of the cotton textile industry in Gujarat, and examine the parallels with Lancashire. This was followed up by archival research within Lancashire Museums, particularly at Queen St. Mill, Burnley.
This research has resulted in a site-specific installation piece which explores the human legacy of cotton manufacture in Lancashire and Gujarat.
'Clocking On' makes connections with the lives and experiences of individual workers through a focus on artefacts of common and daily use. An installation of 100 billy-cans (in which the Lancashire workers brewed their tea) weaves its way from the public area of Queen St. Mill museum into the loom shed, recreating the circular format of the original workers’ clocking-on machine. The circle includes a number of tiffin boxes (in which the Indian workers took their meals to the mills).
The installation is made of slip-cast ceramic forms, echoing the ceramic numbers of the clocking-on machine. Each piece is personalised using digitally printed imagery (text, numbers and documents) ‘sampled’ from the archives at Queen St Mill, together with images sourced and collected in Gujarat. 'Clocking On' was subsequently re-configured and re-sited in the derelict loom shed of old Rajnagar Mill, for the exhibition 'Cotton Exchange' in Ahmedabad, India, in April 2013.
Photos: Tony Richards.
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