Kajal Nisha Patel
PORTRAIT: People and Places of the First Art Area
When I was asked to participate in this project, I was in the process of documenting the decline of textiles manufacturing in Leicester. My interest in textiles accompanies childhood memories of time spent in hosiery and garment factories, after school and during holidays whilst my mother worked as a sewing machinist. She was employed within Leicestershire’s burgeoning clothing industry during the 1970’s, up until the period of industrial decline when mass production was shifting to China and India. My mother was a skilled artisan, but classed as an immigrant or simple factory worker.
For this project, my mother’s experiences directed my curiosity towards the remnants of local textiles production, its related cottage industries along with other skilled craftspeople in the area. I have chiefly concentrated on the local skills based economy, particularly small enterprise artisans, working with natural materials. I am interested in people’s pride when they connect with the history of the land that they inhabit, and the dignity that comes from producing meaningful things. I have looked at the importance of creativity for individuals and the strength and collective identity this brings to communities.