Cos Ahmet at Fabric Residency, Summer 2015

Cos Ahmet ‘Spinning Yarns’, 2015

Cos Ahmet ‘Hand Speak’ 2015

Cos Ahmet ‘Kissing the Shuttle’, 2015

Cos Ahmet ‘When Cotton Was King’ 2015

During the summer of 2015, Cos Ahmet used his time as Fabric’s Artist in Residence to create ‘temporary’ site-specific installations, and his biggest works to date, that would serve and exist as pieces within a ‘point in time’. Making use of yarns left from the mill’s previous life, Ahmet responded and commented on the more obscure aspects of ‘mill life’ that transpired.

“ I wanted to create a new body of work, where the ‘fabric’ and ‘physical’ space combine and extend the notion of the mill being a body or a container, that sustains memory or gestures of its past”.

Secret languages emerged from his research, in the shape of communication developed by the mill workers known as ‘Mee-Maw’, This exaggerated speech was made up of a combination of sign language, lip reading and mime. These overly pronounced movements allowed the workers in the weaving sheds to communicate with each other. The noise from the looms rendered hearing impossible, so workers used mee-mawing to articulate themselves.   Inspired by this, Ahmet employed this mode of speech in his works ‘Spinning Yarns’, 2015 and ‘Hand Speak’ 2015, with traces filtering into the work ‘Kissing the Shuttle’, 2015. These pieces made use of the mill’s resource of yarns, incorporated with casts of the artist’s hands and printed images of mouths to emulate dialogue.

“I saw these threads acting as lines of speech, with the cones of yarn, and makeshift pirn’s representing abstract bodies, identities or even the mills themselves, and the mouths as transmitters”.

To compliment Ahmet’s main ideas during his residency, he also nodded to Manchester’s textile heritage and reputable past, when it was known as ‘Cottonopolis’. In the work ‘When Cotton Was King’ 2015, he comments on it’s rise and fall as a three part tale.  Building towers of yarn, he represents the rise of the mills as a cluster red bricked chimneys. The fall of the industry is shown with cones of yarn, pail and reduced to piles; the strands of yarn trailing from them still connected to the chimneys, trying to hold on to its industry and identity. These ‘connections’ between the two parts represent the looms and the warps that made the millions of yards of cotton produced at its peak.


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