Helen Parrott

Detail of work in progress by Helen Parrott in response to Bradford College Textile Archive collections

"I chose the Mary Ware notebook from the Collection of the Society of Dyers and Colourists. When I first opened the notebook and saw the words 'Mary Ware, Calico printer, Crayford, Kent'  and the date 25 September 1773 I was fascinated. Questions began to race around my mind: Who was Mary Ware? How did she come to be literate? Where was Crayford and how did it fit with the Bradford Textile Archive? Did Mary design the hundreds of printed patterns pasted into the notebook? Would the notebook be a rich enough source for this project?

Research into genealogical, business, museum and internet records followed; providing answers, the title and a wealth of potential content. Eighteenth century calico printing, the record of the theft of a length of printed cloth from Mary Ware, changing dye technologies, north country quilts, tree of life symbols and northern landscapes all feature.

The final piece comprises layers of new and reused cotton fabrics, including some of personal significance, intended to reflect the layers of history. I added painted and dyed samples, drawing and appliqué and then integrated these layers into a new contemporary form by hand stitching/quilting.  

I have been a practising visual artist, writer, teacher, mentor and coach since 1990. Now based in Sheffield, on the edge of the Derbyshire Peak District, my particular interests are landscape, hand stitch, mark making and artists' professional development."