Marilyn hall

These images and notes really show the contrasts that are to be found in the world of textiles.
Often thought of as feminine and domestic – pretty and decorative, this is the harsh, brutal side of textiles. The people who worked the factories making the cloth and the garments had a difficult, dirty and poverty stricken life. I found much evidence of this too when I was researching my dissertation, particularly in the corsetry industry and amongst dressmakers and garment finishers.

Did anyone see ‘Made in Dagenham’? A must see! This was in the late 60’s, so recently were women fighting for equality and fair conditions at work.

Denise Jones

Masson Mills, Derwent Valley, UK

Masson Mills

Last week I visited Masson Mills in Derbyshire, the fourth of Richard Arkwright’s mills, opened in 1783.

Unlike Cromford, his first and most well-known mill downstream, Masson has none of the shiny gloss of a revered heritage site. In fact it is quite ramshackle. There are heaps of bobbins of every size and age bundled into cavities, strips of part woven fabric and half threaded looms and most impressive of all, silent rusting monumental machines of cast iron.











It is hard to imagine bodies between these huge once deafening structures. What remains now is the cold, the decayed, damp and still.



As I left the site it felt like I had raked over a truer version of the past, more human than a text book, and one that could be revealed as brutish, scratchy and harsh like the gritstone base the mills here were built upon.




Denise Jones

Still, Stille

I made this piece of work very quickly, the day after I returned from Herxheim.


I called it Stille, a German word which means stillness, quietness, silence.
I made it in response to seeing my degree work hung again on a different wall, in a wider space and with its interpretation lost to some degree in translation.


I feel more protective towards this work each time it is hung. It seems to evoke a reaction from the viewer, not always positive! This time I thought the work looked still, like something had stopped in motion, like a photograph capturing a moment that had passed. All my engagement physically and mentally, was stilled once it was finished.
I realised that I was returning to those ideas when I made the small piece last week. I subconsciously used the colour of black and white photography too. I named it only when it was finished, as it was not until that moment that I knew what it was about. My needle at the moment of completion, became silent.

In a more lighthearted way, I am juxtaposing photographs and cloth on some cards for Ramster, an exhibition in March. I’m having a lot of fun with these! The photographs are from the 1920’s and of a relative who was a ‘New Woman’!
They are ‘stills’ of her friends and fellow ‘artists’!


Finally, I went to The Foundling Museum recently and was deeply moved by the fragile human stories about the foundlings and their parents, revealed in cloth and love tokens.
I took a photograph of the Foundling clock.
The photograph of course, stopped the time the moment I took it.


Marilyn Hall

At last, I am stitching like mad.

Lots of samples need to be stitched with different threads so that I can begin trial dyeing. I love the serendipity of indigo and shibori but really want a clear idea of how the planned panels will look. So much time and effort are invested in large pieces that I want to get it right. Hence 9 new samples!
I will post images when they are done

Marilyn Hall

Cloth – new cloth – clean, pristine, waiting, at the beginning of it’s life. I take the cloth and stitch it by hand, imparting my mark, bringing it to life so that it can begin it’s journey. The stitching changes the surface of the cloth, it becomes softer and more flexible with each row of stitching.




By  indigo dyeing  some of the samples the stitching will leave traces on the cloth. Yarns will each leave their own trace.  I feel as though this is also the beginning of a journey for me, as I explore endless possibilities.


Denise Jones


Every Contact Leaves a Trace

The title of this blog came from a book I read over New Year by Elanor Dymott (It was a murder story set in Oxford). What intrigued me was the title of the book, as it made a connection to work I’m beginning to make for the exhibition in Cirencester in October which is to be called ‘Traces’.
The book title reminded me that somewhere in a work and informing the work is a person and a life lived, a life that exists within a certain contextual time frame and is surrounded and marked by a society.

I found another quote, a jewel of wisdom, from Walter Benjamin, written in 1935.
He said, ‘to live means to leave traces’ (from ‘Reflections’, p155).

I’m printing marks at the moment and trying to find a quality in them, and then I shall embroider between them with haphazard stitches.
Why?-I will keep asking that!

This new work is being informed by the quotes.
I think I’m exploring a tension, the idea that the work can be a record, a personal trace, and simultaneously a register and document of others imprinting on our lives.

Val Cross

We met with Kay at the New Brewery Arts Centre in Cirencester on Tuesday to look at the gallery we have booked for our first exhibition in October.  The space is a good size for our group of five with some architectural features that will inform and challenge our curatorial skills.

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The centre itself is colourful and lively with the bonus of an excellent cafe.  We left feeling very positive and encouraged.