New textile installation created at Belper’s North Mill

A new contemporary textiles installation been created for the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site.

Threading Through Time, the creation of Japanese textile artist Seiko Kinoshita,  draws attention to the rich heritage of Belper in the heart of the World Heritage Site.

The beautiful installation combines hundreds of bobbins from the mill, cotton thread and a soundscape, which have been installed into the historic basement area of Strutt’s North Mill museum in Belper. It will be open to the public from today October 18 until November 3.

Seiko, pictured above next to the installation, has been researching and recording sounds from inside different textile mills, including the Tomioka Silk Mill World Heritage Site in Japan, John Smedley Ltd, Masson Mills and Usui Seishi, the largest silk mill in Japan.

The artist has also talked to people who work and have worked in textile mills, as she is interested in how the rhythm of the machinery stays in people’s minds and how they are remembered. Their memories make up the seven-minute soundscape which echos around the basement.

The second concept of Seiko’s project, Threading through Communities, is an atmospheric lantern lit walk. She has created a lantern design inspired by the shape of the cotton bobbin, and the Japanese tradition of illuminating paths with lanterns.

The lanterns will combine cotton thread, including John Smedley’s Sea Island cotton, paper and other natural materials to thread through each lantern to create beautiful effects.

She is working with local community groups such as the Belper Clusters Heritage Group, schools, Church and craft groups to make the lanterns which will then be installed along the Clusters Housing, a historically significant area in Belper where the workers from the cotton mills lived – these are some of the earliest examples of industrial housing in the world.

The event will shine a light on the significance of this area, and also transfer skills and ideas to the community groups about how they can continue this type of event into the future.

The lantern event will start at 6pm from George Street in Belper on Saturday October 26 and end at St Peter’s Church, Belper with refreshments.

The commissioned work is part of the Derwent Valley Mills Discovery Days Festival and Japanese Season of Culture and has been funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England for the World Heritage Site’s Great Place Scheme. It is the second of three programmed arts commissions.

The first designed by Jo Fairfax is at Cromford Mills. The interactive art installation, is a water and cycle-powered drawing machine which takes inspiration from Sir Richard Arkwright’s early career as he started out his journey as entrepreneur, inventor and architect of the modern factory system.

The third will be created at Darley Abbey next year.

Belper’s Strutt North Mill is one of the world’s first fireproof buildings and the world’s second water-powered cotton spinning mill. The North Mill houses a museum telling the story of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site in Belper.

Seiko Kinoshita is a contemporary textile artist based in Sheffield. Her work is innovative and thought provoking and she has exhibited at venues such as the Silk Mill in Derby, Buxton Museum and Art Gallery and Sheffield Cathedral.