Winding, then Winding, 2023

Winding, then Winding (2023) is informed by my research into my family history, the production and export of linen through the Derry~Londonderry ports and the history of Linenopolis, the name given to my hometown of Belfast in the 19th Century when it was at the centre of the world’s linen industry. This work builds upon previous works investigating how the body learns, adapts, responds to and performs manual work. Over the past 18 months I have been learning how to weave linen, whilst researching the social history of the fabric and its facture. One of the strongest fibres in existence, linen traditionally requires skilled people to produce it. The works in the exhibition are inspired by the architecture and physical movement of operating a loom as well as the social and personal histories of linen production. My ancestors worked in factories in Portadown and Lisburn as weavers, warpers and yarn winders and the work explores ways information is passed on from one person to another and between generations, in particular how knowledge can be stored within the body. Developed in parallel with my changing pregnant body, with the largest works produced post-partum and taking their structure from the cycle of my day caring for my newborn - changing the weaving pattern or weft yarn following nursing or soothing. The linen maps the passage of time as a new parent, growth spurts, cluster feeding and naps. I consider that as a counterpoint to the increasing pace of mechanical production and often invisible, outsourced labour of today’s new technologies and unsustainable production of fabrics for fast fashion as well as the relationship between women’s work and labour.

My table loom forms part of the installation and I will weave alongside my mother, who I'm teaching to weave, on the first day of the exhibition. Throughout the run of the exhibition weavers are invited to contribute to a collective weaving on the loom.

Winding, then Winding (2023) was presented as part of SEAMS (31 March-3 June 2023) my solo exhibition at CCA Derry~Londonderry.