Taking Shoddy to Batley, widely acknowledged as the birthplace of the shoddy manufacturing process, was a real honour. And the exhibition received a warm welcome there.
Batley & Birstall News gave us great coverage a couple of days before we officially opened. And people who’d seen the article came to the exhibition as a result, some with their own memories and stories about the shoddy mills
Batley Vintage Day organisers sent many supportive messages via social media in the run up to this event on 28th May and then listed the exhibition and workshop prominently in the programme. The exhibition opened to coincide with Vintage Day, which brought loads of people into town and almost 2,000 into the Library and Art Gallery itself, where Shoddy was on show.
Many of these people found their way to the Art Gallery on the first floor. Everyone entering the building was greeted with four of the dramatic pieces from our exhibition which were placed in the middle of the ground floor library, next to the counter and, in the case of Hyde Your Shadow, on top of one of the library shelves. It looked wonderfully imposing. A balcony around the building meant that you could look down on the work as well as viewing from below.
As well as the bulk of the exhibition being in the Art Gallery, one of the artists, Carrie Scott Huby, ran a drop-in workshop there throughout the day. People used strips of shoddy blankets to make little nests or pots, in the style of Scott Huby’s Shoddy Utility Nests, which were in a cabinet nearby. It was great to see boys and girls enjoying sewing.
It’s been a great day at Batley Art Gallery and we’ve learned lots of new things. Thanks 🙂
The exhibition in Batley included the work of Hayley Mills Styles, whose embroidered Deconstruct/Reconstruct complemented Sandy Holden’s Phoenix. Showing pieces in different combinations than in Leeds (such as putting Katya Robin’s Coin Icon with Natalia Sauvignon’s Beautiful But Deadly, both brightly coloured pieces) gave the exhibition new life. There was a lot of interaction (see photo left) with Kirsty Hall’s Tatterdemalion in Batley!
Finally, none of this would have been possible without the gallery’s coordinator (juggled with working in the library) Mark Milnes. Mark made space for the exhibition, moved furniture and fittings around to accommodate it and quickly and expertly installed the work. Mark also had the brilliant idea of showing Shoddy alongside some of the library’s collection of reference books on the history of shoddy in Batley.
Here are a few snapshots from the exhibition, which is on in Batley until 11th June.