My installation at Chard Museum has involved researching the history of Chard and the former textiles industries. I have been particularly drawn to the women who worked in the vast lace mill factories, agriculture and collar works and whose stories were often untold or overlooked.
I visited the local library and researched local history and archives. The library was the former lace mill factory site and so I was particularly interested in visiting this and other related sites in and around Chard to inform my research. For me the linking of material to place is very important and therefore the netting produced in lace mills back in the 1800s and still today was significant and felt a powerful metaphor to explore in terms of the women working and contributing to all of the industries-both at once visible and invisible.
My aim was to create an immersive installation that allowed you to experience the museum and the different objects from ‘within’ my net building and to then reference the different industries related to Chard through my installation. The ‘wall of arms’ refers to the hundreds of women who worked in the lace mills and collar factories. The lace machine is visible through the multiple arms. The harvest figures with cog bodies reference the rural traditions in Chard, embedded within the net skirt/bodies are dried grasses and flowers as well as hay. Their bodies are partly machines and cogs, highlighting the shift and change in industries to machines.
The suspended bodies as buildings are my response to the imposing Holyrood mills within Chard town and how integral people and especially women have been to those buildings and the wider communities. The buildings become bodies, linking metaphorically to the net building edifice. The two large scale drawings are again embedded within the ‘fabric’ of the building, on the outside is a drawing that refers to the inside of one of the machines and lace mill. Within is a drawing of a person becoming a building. The femininity of the space and the re-visiting of female perspectives and stories has been key to the development of my installation and research.