500 small figures hidden at Mill

A massive installation using threads is being woven around Strutt’s North Mill’s supporting structure by artist Tan Draig OBE. But hidden within the web-like installation will be 500 miniscule ‘workers’. 

It is being launched on Saturday 14th May from 6pm – 8pm. It will remain on show in the basement of Strutt’s North Mill Museum and Visitor Centre from Mon 15th May – Mon 30th May, during the Museum’s open hours of Wednesday to Sunday, plus Bank Holiday Monday, between 11am and 4pm. Children can go in free and adults are charged £4, which includes a tour of the Strutt’s North Mill Museum – a fascinating glimpse into the work of the cotton spinning mill from the earliest days of the industrial revolution until the end of the 20th century.

The installation will be made up of a web of threads, woven around the stone pillars that support the cast iron structure of the 1804 built North Mill and is being installed by Tan over a period of four days. “The idea of the web, “ said Tan “ is that it  reflects the tight spaces that the mill workers worked in, surrounded by machines in great long rows, all running with miles of cotton threads that were being spun, doubled and finished. People will be able to walk down the ‘tunnel’ within the web and see if they can find some of the really tiny figures of workers hidden within it.“

Tan has also worked with over 110 local people at workshops as part of the project – with their ages ranging from 3 to over 80. They have made a variety of knotted and looped braids, done some giant tubular knitting, had a go at making nets and made more than 100 tassels – all techniques that the thread made in the mill could have been used for.  

The project has been set up and organised by Fleet Arts, with a grant from the Ashley Family Foundation and some additional funding from Belper Town Council.  Fleet Arts has worked with Tan Draig to create the idea and staff at the North Mill to bring it all together. The North Mill’s volunteers have been on a training workshop and then helped at many of the other workshops.

The installation launch  coincides with the Museums at Night open event, which is also giving free access to the new exhibition ‘The Strutt Workers’ Community’ .   Part of the Fabric workshop participants  and other supporters have been invited to come along to the launch.  “But, “added  Tan,  “I want as many people as possible to come throughout the time it is up  – and they will need to come along to find what they can add to it themselves! It’s a secret - I am not telling anyone at the moment”        

For more information people contact jane@fleet-arts.org or phone Fleet Arts on 01773 820484 

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