‘Shattered Silk, The Bond is Always by Scent, The Salve of Repair’, an exhibition by Jini Rawlings is on at the Nuneaton Museum and Art Gallery.

The exhibition combines handsewn costumes of silk and cotton, interpretive dance and interactive video.  Silk is used as a metaphor for some of the entangled stories of women in the turbulent 1860s when class and race were key concerns and global events affected local lives.

Each costume is inspired by different real or fictional characters. The interactive touch -sensitive tussah silk dress and video projections of a dancer relate to Sarah, Rawlings’ birth ancestor who was a silk ribbon weaver in Coventry when the industry was on the point of collapse through free trade agreements. The digitally printed cotton dress relates to Harriet Martineau, sociologist and writer and Sojourner Truth who had personal experience of slavery. Both were long term abolitionists when the American Civil War was being fought and the Lancashire cotton famine was at its height. The organza silk hanging dress and video projection is a response to the story of 2-year-old Eppie and her mother Molly in Silas Marner, The Weaver of Raveloe, by George Eliot. Eppie represents a liminal state between being lost and found when Molly dies from an overdose in the snow, and she walk s through the open door into the weaver’s cottage.  This was a time when the poor were castigated for drug abuse while the middle classes frequently used laudanum, an opium tincture as a medical aid. 

A touch sensitive interactive box uses Cash’s name tapes and etymology pins to links some of the threads through short video sequences. The exhibition also features museum items relating to the life of George Eliot. 

Find out more about the exhibition on the Nuneaton Museum and Art Gallery website.

The exhibition will come to London Gallery West in Harrow from 1–10 March 2023.