Tales from the global textile industry
Wonder and Dread explores the politics and morality of the textile industry through time, and how this industry affects and connects people across continents. Based on a residency at Bradford Industrial Museum, Alke Schmidt situates local stories from Bradford's wool industry in a global context, linking its industrial heritage with the present and where our clothes are made now.
Stories range from English wool weavers' violent campaign against imported Indian cottons in the early 18th century to work at a Bradford scouring plant today. The disastrous collapse of the Rana Plaza textile factory building in Bangladesh in 2013 finds an uncanny echo in the collapse of Bradford's Newlands Mill in 1882. Elsewhere, Schmidt investigates the historic textile trade between England and Peru, inspired by a Salts Mill sample book from the Museum's collection.
Each work incorporates a different fabric, chosen for its association with the story being told and combined with painting, stitch or print.
Schmidt delibrately cultivates the tension between the works' thought-provoking subject matter and their attractive, even decorative, appearance - mirroring the contrast between the beauty of fashionable textiles and the misery often associated with their production. Wonder and Dread invites us to consider the contradictions and ambiguities of an industry that spans centuries and every part of the globe.
Read Alke Schmidt's blog exploring the themes of 'Wonder and Dread', including a summary of the panel discussion 'Clothes to Die For' held at Bradford Industrial Museum on 15 March 2018.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a series of engagement events.
See more of 'Wonder and Dread' at Salts Mill, Saltaire: From 5 May, a new site specific commission by Alke Schmidt will be exhibited in Salts Mill's People and Process Gallery.
Exhibition and associated engagement programme kindly supported by Arts Council England.