There’s a definite art to running, but what about running to make art? What about running up and down a very large room 15 times, leaving footprints, recording your heartbeat and stitching them together into an artwork using a sewing machine and 100 metres of cloth?
Twenty-three artists from all over the world took a room in a former textile factory as their inspiration to produce Cloth and Memory, which is quite frankly a most magnificent and moving exhibition. The fact that the inspiration is in the Unesco World Heritage Site of Saltaire and Yorkshire epicentre of all things arty, makes this exhibition in the 168-metre-long spinning room at Salts Mill a must-see.
I’m a real fan of Salts Mill anyway, it has a fabulous bookshop, a whole load of Hockneys and the coffee’s not bad either. Plus, it’s only a short run from home…The top floor of the former mill has hosted a number of exhibitions, as well as performances, seminars and installations. I just love the light up there, an essential element for the spinners when the mill was producing 18 miles of cloth a day. No wonder Bradford was once the textile centre of the world.
The exhibition takes cloth as its main theme and left it to the artists to interpret it in the context of heritage or memory. They made great use of the space, with spirals of cloth suspended from the ceiling, hand-woven kimonos with a feminist theme, embroidery hoops with woollen cloth and an unravelled jumper, the description doesn’t do it justice! But what really stood out for me was a 100 metre length of cloth digitally embroidered by Karina Thompson who had run up and down the room to represent the amount of fabric produced in one hour at the mill. I was tempted to run alongside to see if my steps matched hers, but I didn’t want to crash into the suspended web of dried rice from Japanese artist Yoriko Yoneyama and cause an international incident.
There wasn’t any information on how long it took the artist to make. Even though it was machine stitched and probably using computer technology it is quite a feat and rather than fancy embroidery, I’m pretty sure she used running stitch.
Cloth and Memory runs 11-4pm daily until November 3. Entrance is free.