‘mayo blue’

  1998

Was commissioned and exhibited as a one person show as part of ‘Photo ’98: Year of Photography and the Electronic Image’. It was produced as a site-specific Installation for Bagshaw Museum in Batley, ironically owned by a local 19thC mill owner. The work uses historical archive documentary and contemporary photographic images of workers and mill interiors and is dedicated to local Irish women who worked in the mills and who were not much older than the young Queen Victoria when they emigrated from Mayo, Ireland.

‘I aim to make art that refers to something other than it-self. In making this body of work, I am mindful of the historical and social functions of photographs and of the conditions of labour in the 19th Century. I am also attempting to memorialise the many emigrant Irish women who left Ireland to work in the mills of the North of England. Some were escaping the notorious ‘Magdalen Asylums’, where women and young girls were incarcerated and laboured within the Laundries, often for decades, with no real legitimacy. To this end, I work with documentary archive photographs of mill workers and with contemporary images of industrial interiors from Blakeridge Mill in Batley, alongside romanticised 19th Century portraits of women and girls. These photographs would have been constructed at around the same time as the mill was first in production in the mid 1840’s and during the years of the Irish Famine.’