‘Spinning wheels, muffins and hedges in repeat’ is a series of four signed prints by artist Claire Barber, inspired by the stories of spinners and weavers from Bolton who were present at the Peterloo Massacre.
Unframed giclee prints on Hahnemuhle Fine Art paper, weight 285g
Print Size 9 x 9in (230 x 230mm) no border
Buy single prints or as a series of four.
Spinning wheels, muffins and hedges in repeat (2019) was commissioned as part of Peterloo 2019 by Manchester Histories, Greater Manchester Combined Authority and GM Libraries and Archives, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre. It is one of a series of four prints exhibited at ‘Peterloo: Bolton Textile Works and the Fight for Democracy’, Bolton Museum and Art Gallery 2019.
The demonstrators at St Peter’s Field included men, women and children from Bolton. The exhibition commemorates the names of 23 local people, mainly spinners and weavers, who were injured at the meeting. It also explores the issues that motivated them to make the long march to Manchester. ‘Spinning wheels, muffins and hedges in repeat’ is a series of digitally printed handkerchiefs presented in the exhibition which record my response to the story of a 15 -year old boy called Isaac Entwistle, and the journey he took on 16 August 1819 from his home at Affetside near Bolton to St Peter’s Field.
Through the use of procedures of archival research to create new ways for the public to engage with the heritage in their local area the exhibition calls for a re-assessment of the legacy of Peterloo to be confronted. The handkerchief has become a means to do this in capturing my response to the physical features of the landscape that Isaac would have passed through on his long walk to Manchester, features he would have known with ‘an implicit tactile understanding’ since childhood.
This led me to think about Samuel Crompton, the Bolton-born inventor of the Spinning Mule. He would have been receptive from a young age to the inner structure of the short fluffy staples of cotton fibre, testing their constituency and lightness as they were rolled, pulled and spun into yarn. I was able to discover more about Crompton through his hand-written letters held in the Bolton Archives. I traced the ripped and curled lines of an ‘I’ alongside the feathery characteristics of a ‘t’ next to a sloping ‘o’. Words copied form the page were placed side-by-side and understood as a structural, rhythmic formation almost woven in appearance. My absorption in the process led me to think about the physical tactile side of hand-production that Bolton weavers were in danger of losing with the shift to machine production.
Through the use of procedures of archival research to create new ways for the public to engage with the heritage in their local area the exhibition calls for a re-assessment of the legacy of Peterloo Massacre to be confronted. The handkerchief has become a means to do this. Looking back at the original handkerchief produced and sold following the Peterloo Massacre, I hope to provide a reassessment of its commemorative capacity to engage in questions relating to the purpose of eye-witness testimony in conflict situations that continue to have relevance today.