Since May 2015, and this workshop in mind I have had some cotton fabric wrapped in two iron grate covers that I liberated form the old workhouse buildings in Sheffield. I wanted to see if the rusting iron would corrode the fabric over time. I have in the back of my mind the story of my ancestors journey from Scotland and affluence to poverty and a life in the workhouse in Sheffield, and how I could tell the story through my textile studies with the OCA. I also collected distemper that was coating the walls of the Receiving house building. This was the portal all inmates of the workhouse would go through. I had no idea how coating cotton and muslin fabric with it would change the fabric over time. I wanted to find a way to capture a past lifetime and meld it with my life in the 21st Century. Nine months later I unwrapped the fabric and hung the distemper caked fabrics to dry. I couldn’t see any areas that had rotted completely away, but It was certain that some echo of the past was encapsulated in the fabric.
The bowl that has been home to the cotton, rusted grate covers mixed initially with vinegar and salt, then left out in the elements for 9 months. There was a growth of something that originated from the iron. It looked like a spongy fungus like with tendrils.
The reflections on the water as I took the photograph also intrigued me, because of the shadow of me taking the picture. My mind is on shadows because of the workshops of part 3.
Above is a smaller grate cover which had a small amount of cotton fabric around it. This fabric had become attached to the iron by the rust.
The odd growth was determined to stay adhered to the iron rust.
The fabric fresh from the bowl hung up to dry.
Below is he dried cotton fabric. The colour is quite vibrant which doesn’t show on the photograph. Most pleasing.
The fabric with the distemper ground into it, I can only assess after it is dry I feel. I wonder how much of the distemper will fall away? Again I left these outside open to the elements to hopefully help any decay along.
I had no idea what the outcomes would be or, if it would be possible to use the results in some way, but I knew it would be a good exercise in looking at a variety of ways fabric could be manipulated.