Fact and Fabrication
This was a community based, National Lottery Heritage Funded project which started in March 2018. It was initiated by Jenny Anthony and Maureen Elliott as Spiral Arts in collaboration with Hazel Thomson as a newcomer to local history research.
The project innovatively brought together original historical research and creative textiles to mark the Centenary of the end of First World War hostilities and the Declaration of Peace. The project explored WW1 Home Front experiences of the people and communities along a section of the lower Derwent Valley and the surrounding area. We focused on the stretch of the river in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Derwent Valley Mills, which runs from Matlock Bath at the northern point down to the Silk Mill in Derby.
Research was carried out by a small team whose members were previously new to historical research, with information being gathered from local archives. Training to develop research skills was provided by Derby and Matlock libraries and Derby University, and was supplemented by guided tours at Masson Mill and Smedley’s Mill.
The initial collection of data was then used to inform the creation of a textile installation. Spiral Arts led a number of workshops over the summer of 2018 in Cromford, Belper and Derby, where participants experienced a range of art forms and an opportunity to develop their creative skills. Sewing sessions were organised to piece together the dyed and printed materials and to stitch and embroider enhancements onto the fabric. The entire piece was hand stitched, with around 40 people contributing to the fabrication of this creative initiative, inspired by the Derwent Valley.
Read more about this inspirational project here