During my research of the Cotton Mills, I found out that the working women invented a common language so each other and not the hierarchy could understand them. This language was called Mee Mawing and was a form of lip reading and mouthing words with just long sounds and hand actions.
This language is hard to find much out about these days, but I did find a small clip of someone re-creating it. Also, a comedian of the time called Les Dawson used to re-enact two old ladies talking in a similar way.
I wanted to use this found footage as a film and sound installation by isolating some clips from an interview with past workers of the Mills in Lancashire and mixing it with the sounds of the mill machinery. Then playing this over the top of the film clips.
Creating a cacophony of sounds of which you could barely hear the talking, this is almost as it would have been at the time.
This installation itself was trickier for me as I am used to creating big elaborate pieces, so have just one TV seemed strange, and for some reason, it wasn’t working when I was testing it out. Then it dawned on me that this was a conversation, with the ladies, the audience and each other, so more than one TV was needed.
By this time on one other was available so I went with two although several more could have worked even better.
By angling them in a corner so the slightly faced each other and at the average eye level were then also facing the viewer, this gave the impression of a conversation. All be it a noisy one!
There is defiantly room for improvement, as a sound engineer put the interview and noises together for my piece. Our chat discussions were via email. It was good but could be improved by me being with the engineer, but at the time this wasn’t possible as he wasn’t in the country when he created this for me.
I also need more education on editing films, as this kind of tuition is few and far between, the help I did get was with a fellow student.
If film is something I want to pursue again then more education is needed in this area. At the moment I am not sure I am at that stage yet.
All of these clips of sound and film are found fragments of information, lost in history sat waiting in time to be collected and used again. I have repurposed these fragments for my own research.
As will all my work it starts with a found object and fragment lost or left behind, it then takes on a new life by associating itself with my practice, and my research. Many of my pieces become social info grams, snippets of fact and fictions rolled together to create unusual narratives.
This work is a turning point for me, to explore my desire to promote feminist issues that have been lost, and need bringing back to the forefront because these are still issues that are affecting our women today in other countries.