Sarah-Joy Ford’s practice is rooted in textiles, feminism and archival research, making her the perfect choice to undertake one of our heritage art commissions. The creative brief was to produce a new permanent memorial for the eighteen workers killed in the mill collapse, most of whom were young women and girls.
Using the most up to date verified names from our heritage research, Sarah-Joy produced a quilt, a form that has been central to her artistic practice. Historic memorials are often rendered in steel and stone, but a memorial quilt speaks more gently of hearth and home, sites of family and femininity.
There is an intimacy to a quilt as it covers and cares for us in sleep, childhood, old age, and illness. The patchwork pattern of the quilt eschews social hierarchies, while the bright pastel colours selected by the artist also make us think of youth, girlhood, innocence.
The motifs in the quilt pattern include cotton spinning wheels, which many of the workers would know well, while the illustrations are of the mill itself, based on an original etching of 1824, the ever -present clouds over Salford, and an image of the Salford Cross, the beacon of old town life which was taken down the year of the accident.
The quilt will eventually be stored behind light-resistant glass and put on permanent display inside Islington Mill.
Read more about Sarah-Joy Ford here: http://sarahjoyford.com/