Women’s work, epitomised by the textile manufacturing and garment assembly processes that have been so central to Manchester’s development as an industrial city, has traditionally been regarded as manual, repetitive and low-skilled. However, the perception of this work as low skilled is frequently undeserved; often it is simply that the skills the women develop become second nature, a form of tacit knowledge. Without needing to concentrate on their work, women have historically found ways to communicate and share stories, sometimes talking and gossiping and sometimes lip reading or creating a kind of sign language when noise prevented their voices being heard. The result is a kind of industrial language, in which speech and embodied communication is intimately wrapped up with both the task being performed and the need to break the monotony of the work. In this way, stories become woven into the artefacts created and, while the repetitive nature of the work might cast the women in the role of a cog in the machine of a dehumanising industrial process, the conversations ensure this is shot through with humanity. We would like to celebrate women’s work by exploring the nature of this process, asking gallery visitors to reflect on these industrial stories that are precariously woven into the lives of their female lineage. What are their stories? Do they foreground their humanity, or trap them in their role as a cog in the machine? Visitors will be invited to join our production line – collaborating in assembling an artwork that recalls stories about their female lineage – and create a memento of the performance.
ply is a Dual Works production, with collaborating artists:Zoe Robertson, Stephen Snell and Sian Hindle. Jewellery artist Zoe Robertson’s creates theatrically sized jewellery, experiments on the edges of the discipline and enjoys working collaboratively. Sian Hindle is an artist who uses drawing to explore how people articulate aspects of their embodied identity.Steve Snell is a member of Sellotape Cinema, a duo who use found visual footage, field recordings and audio traces to provide a visual and aural canvas
ply was performed at Precarious Assembly on Thursday 4th August 2016 as part of an evening of performance and installation throughout the Whitworth Gallery
For more information visit Accumulations
To read more about our experience visit Sian Hindle’s blog