From the hands and hearts of female workers, weaving threads from North to South.
What does the body retain?
The project’s starting point was Luan’s Nana, Kathleen Moores, aged 92, who was born and bred in Oswaldtwistle, Lancashire. Kath was a weaver, a cleaner, a munitions worker, a laundry lass, a factory inspector, a school cook, and Mother to three daughters. She was also a tap dancer by night. Luan found it fascinating that despite Kathleen’s dementia, she could remember and retell what she did in those jobs through physically showing it with her hands. It was in her body memory, a dance, and a testiment to her life as a worker.
Kathleen Moores - Born March 23rd 1922 - Died May 22nd 2016
What does the body retain, what sticks with you, what becomes a part of you? The effects on the individual of repetitive mechanised work, where the female body emulates and integrates with the actions of the machine is examined within this project. The dynamic, and challenging interplay between worker and machine, questions how might the human experience struggle to find its expression (camaraderie, pride, dreaming) in such environments? Machine Women is inspired by many female workers from around the UK including Lancashire weavers, ‘women of the Ropery’ in Chatham, and the hat makers of Luton. At the heart of the work is Betty Tebbs, a paper mill worker from Lancashire who joined her first trade union at 14 and who dedicated her life to working for women workers’ rights.
"Video montage created during the developmental phase for theatre production "Machine Women" using original material and Public Domain stock footage. Supported using public funding by Arts Council England."
Video : Dan McGarry