Queen Street Mill

The North West of England is famous for its witches and its textiles, this year the British Textile Biennial put on numerous displays and thought provoking exhibits in regards to the textile industry and modern life. We went to visit the exhibit at the newly reopened Queen Street Mill, to have a nosy but to also learn about the now dead textile industry and to get a small idea of the scale and how impactful its end was to the local area and the number of people whose lives were massively changed once the mills closed. It also showed just how international and mixed the staff were in a time where not many jobs were as varied in its demographic. Such an eye opener.

I absolutely loved this display; the mix between art and machinery is so pretty. I loved how the threads seem to go any which way, but yet they all make up a weave in the fabric. I chose to edit it in B&W because I found this made it a bit more “dramatic” and I liked that aspect.

The scale and size of the some of the machines was overwhelming, but also so eye opening, the speed at which they worked, adding the noise and the danger, I don’t know if I would have been able to cope. Especially not with the air quality from the little bits of fabric floating in the air. It really was not the greatest of jobs, but also yet so important.

One of the purposes of this exhibit was to shed light and make the business of textiles and it’s processes less anonymous. We consume and buy clothing, but we never or rarely stop to think about the people behind the making of it. Sharing the faces and environment of some of the workers in an Indonesian factory and putting a face to the fabric, humanizes the process but also makes us stop and think about the fact that it is a person who has created the garments we wear. Let it sink in a bit. Added to that, the North West of England was famous for its milling industry, the area thrived on this, but over time as we pushed for cheaper fashion, the need to cut costs and have cheaper labour drove the milling/weaving process overseas. Which ultimately killed the milling industry in the area and affected the region very severely.

We got to see a machine at work weaving a pattern of fabric, it was really remarkable- how quickly the machine works, but also just how many different jobs it does all at once. It was also incredible to see how skilled the men and women were who worked the machines. We also got to see how a machine makes the weave for a towel.

“Wooden Bobbins”
At the front of the mill there were wagons and wagons full of the tools they actually used while it was a working mill. It really caught my eye how some of the wooden spindle thingys (not sure what the real name is- lol). I found it kind of looked like maggots (attractive), but I couldn’t help but think that it could be used to make some really interesting things. Just in love with all of the “textures” that were on display all over the defunct mill.

“Metal Texture”
I’m not fully sure why, but I love this shot, the focus in the front and the blur in the back- how clear the texture at the front of this device is- just proud of it. No idea what this thing is called, hence the title of the shot- lol. Yes, I did try google…

“Curious Cutie”
I had to include one of this curious little one, she was so intrigued and really enjoyed exploring the old mill. She even staged this photo op!

I found so many things pretty, especially if you changed the angle you were looking from. I tend to try to do that when it comes to my photography, especially if it’s an area lots of people will visit. I purposefully blurred the above shot

“Stacked Wooden Bobbins
This is another one of those shots where I really liked the repetition in the depth of field. I kinda have an obsession with focus and blurring the background of the shots, it kind of makes it a bit more interesting to me.

This is my kind of photography, lots of macro shots and all the while learning about things in your neighborhood. What are some of the hidden gems in your area? Share with us.

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