Marking Time

Artist in Residence at Leiston Long Shop Museum

Leiston Long Shop Museum is based in the original buildings of Richard Garrett Engineering Works covering 200 years of local, social and industrial history.

The museum building was once a factory filled with the noise and bustle of workers working on a production line. How had the workers left their mark?  Around the museum there are clues. On the brickwork outside there are curved indents where metal wheels have repeatedly leant against the wall. Inside, on the huge oak beams reaching up to the ceiling, are nails hammered in sideways, repeated hammer marks and even an indent of a horse shoe, hung up on the beam – was it for good luck to help protect the worker from dangerous activities, where losing a finger or getting steel flakes in the eye were not uncommon? Or was it just another horse shoe found in the factory site and casually hooked up?

Looking at the physical evidence, the history associated with Garrett Engineering became more sharply focused and defined. There was a beauty to be found in the hand held tools and poetry in their names. The personal stories of the factory were the stories of Leiston Town itself.

Throughout the school workshops there was an awareness of our repeated activities and actions. The workshops were, in a small way, reliving life at the factory. These experiences mirror our own daily lives and the actions we repeat, the habits we form and the objects that we repeatedly touch and use. They also enable us to realise our personal histories.

The final textile artworks in the exhibition used the frottage/rubbings made by school pupils whose ages ranged from 5 – 16 years. Each piece tells a different story associated with Garrett Engineering – the local fire at Sizewell Hall, the women workers at the factory and female members of the Garrett Anderson family, the organised and orderly structure of factory life, the storage, pattern room, catalogues and the chequered history of the factory workers themselves.