Connecting Threads

Artwork consisting of bobbins suspended from threads

Inspired by the myriad of cotton and textile mills dotted along the rivers and canals of the Midlands, ‘Connecting Threads' is a large-scale art installation that reflects this industry, its history, manufacturing processes and early reliance on the waterways.  The work highlights the paths of the rivers and canals as well as the scale of the industry, its architecture and workforce.  Lines of suspended bobbins incorporating speakers relaying ‘voices of the industry': voices designed to foster an appreciation of, and empathy for, the rhythm and atmosphere of the environment.

  All the bobbins, teasels and pirns used in this installation work are on loan from the unique bobbin collection at Sir Richard Arkwright's Masson Mills Working Textile Museum. Bobbins play an important role in the manufacturing process and, along with teasels and pirns, are suspended to create flowing, undulating lines mirroring not only the flow of the rivers and canals, but also the flow of the yarn and subsequently the cloth as it passes through the mill.

  It is the inclusion of sound however, that truly connects that sense of place and history with the space.  The repetitive machinery sounds provide a rhythm and a flow to the installation, whilst the poetry and literary extracts along with social and historical information engender a sense of the community and camaraderie of the workforce.

  ‘Connecting threads' is the first major installation work for Carolyn J Roberts, a recent First Class Honours graduate in Fine Art from Loughborough University.  Her work explores our interaction with the spaces we inhabit and the subsequent history we leave behind.  Employing a variety of materials and media that combine both contemporary and historical art spheres, her work creates a rich tapestry for the viewer to engage with.  

‘Connecting Threads' will be on display in the First Mill building at Cromford Mill, Derbyshire during the Discovery Days Festival - 26th October - 1st November 2013 and will continue to be exhibited there until the end of November 2013.  It will also be exhibited in the Charnwood Museum, Loughborough from 5th April - 1st June 2014.

Close up of various bobbins which are part of the artwork

 Carolyn has also been invited to exhibit in Suzhou province, China from December 2013 - February 2014.   This work was made possible with the kind support of Sir Richard Arkwright's Masson Mills Working Textile Museum, Matlock Bath, Derbyshire.