Join artist Rachel Carter as she shares her sculptural journey researching her ancestors working in the Darley Abbey cotton mill of the early 1800s and the textile industries’ links to the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. Discover how Rachel’s research developed into a new sculpture highlighting the contributions of women to the wealth of the industrial Midlands.
Historically many of our statues have been erected by leading civic organisations, businesses and through public subscription. They celebrate and commemorate events and people that have helped shape our cities and nations. But did you know only 5% of public statues in the UK represent women and even fewer women of colour? What does their absence signify?
Rachel Carter is a sculptor, she will explain the inspiration for the design of her statue, and the untold stories of these women – our hidden heroines. Rachel says: “Many of my commissions are underpinned by my love of history and ancestry, and I feel honoured to be able to represent our shared and complex histories within sculpture. Looking at my own ancestry often provides inspiration for new work as I add to the long legacy of weavers, knotters and makers that stretch back over 350 years of our Midlands industrial past.”
You’ll also hear some of the poetry written as part of the project.
Standing In This Place has so far engaged with over 200 women to take hand-stitched garments based on historical research, to dress two Nottingham women – Judy aged 79 and Louise aged 82 – then scanned them using photogrammetry to digitally capture them for the basis of the new bronze sculpture.
We’re hoping to prompt questions about our shared history, uncover stories and provide an opportunity to learn from the past and have open conversations. We want to bring people together and challenge the perspective of the industrial landscape of the Midlands, its stories of enslaved labour and those of its working classes.
Rachel Carter works from The Garden Studio on the Derbyshire / Nottinghamshire border, creating large scale sculpture for the garden and smaller intimate sculptures for the home using the lost wax technique to create bronze works.
Throughout her professional practice, since graduating with a BA Hons in Applied Arts, Rachel has found herself driven by process and material in sculpture. For the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower sailing in 2020 she was commissioned to create a new series of work for the Pilgrim Roots districts. The ‘Pilgrim Woman’ sculptures combined hand-woven work alongside community weaving, which was cast in bronze, a plus life size pilgrim which stands in the Danum Gallery, Doncaster, a smaller version stands on the banks of the River Trent in Gainsborough and a third Pilgrim Sculpture is being created for Boston due to be installed in Spring 2022.
Repetition features heavily in Rachel’s work, this could be the process of applying multiple identical lengths of material onto a frame to create surface pattern, or in the creation of an installation made from many identical forms. Hand processes such as weaving, knotting & tying, crochet and even corn dollie weaves have allowed that repetition to flourish to a point where her hands can almost sculpt independently of thought.
Booking essential. Limited places.
Suitable for ages 18+
Image © Rachel Carter Sculpture.