My Sisters Hugged Me to Work
Poetry, textile, stitch, original and archival photography
This piece is a collaboration between textile artist Becky Moore and writer and poet Becky Cherriman.
Embedded in the storytelling are the difficulties faced by disabled workers, the dangers of the workplace, and the way that the labour of disabled people has been and is valued less than non-disabled labour.
By creating a composite work from different millworkers’ lives and using fabrics, ephemera and found words, including vivid Yorkshire mill language, we aim to tell an authentic story of textile workers that has resonance today.
Credits for photographs included in the work:
Archival images of mill workers from the Sunny Bank Mills Archive.
Images of Irish immigrants from the Helen Kennally archive.
A large textile wall hanging, approximately 1 metre wide by 2 metres high.
There are two main elements to this piece:
On the left, a poem printed onto fabric. The lines of the words are staggered and arranged with diagonal back slashes, against a background of squared graph paper, to give a similar effect to weaving pattern designs. Above the poem is a photo of a spinning mule, which extends across the top of the hanging. At the bottom, a photo of mill baskets.
On the right, a patchwork of hexagons of different fabrics flows thickly towards the bottom. Many of them are made from woollen fabrics, brown, slubby and tweedy. Others are cotton. Many printed with quotes from factory workers’ statements and 21st century workers’ statements, archival patterns and documents, and photos of mill workers. Here and there details are highlighted with hand stitching. Cord, labels and other mill-related objects are fixed to the surface.
BSL translation of Becky Moore and Becky Cherriman's statement.
Translated by Khalid Ashraf.
Becky Cherriman reads her poem that forms part of the artwork
Today I have had a stone thrown at me and been verbally abused on the street by kids. I have been denied access to a pharmacy because they "lost the ramp" and told I shouldn't be complaining about a dropped curb because I can walk really. It's been a bad day for me.
A crucial part of producing a piece of art for me is the research stage. Not because I need to include everything I know in the finished piece, but because I need to have a feel for the subject matter.
Textile artist Becky Moore and I worked together on My sisters hugged me to work, a multi-art piece, which is exhibited alongside other artworks at the Leeds Industrial Museum ...
The title of the exhibition, Any work that wanted doing emphasises the pressures of capitalism on individuals. Textile artist Becky Moore and I were aware of this as we worked on our commission.
We felt it was important that our artwork should evoke a sense of place.