Connecting Threads Tapestry Looking for New Home

September 3, 2020

Leigh-on-sea.com speaks with Gwen Simpson lead artist of the Connecting Threads Project and Nazam Uddin the owner of the Mughal Dynasty Restaurant, Leigh-on-sea on finding a new home for the Connecting Threads Tapestry.

Moved by the deaths of the garment factory workers at the Rana Plaza factory in Dhaka, Bangledesh Gwen Simpson a local artist began her journey of creating a tapestry in remembrance of those who lost their lives. Nazam is a great supporter of Gwen and wanted not only to remember the workers who died but to highlight the plight of textile workers in Bangladesh, the conditions that they work in and the small amount they are paid.

So now the Connecting Threads textile hanging is looking for a permanent home or a venue where a new audience can view this 9ft wide by 26 ft long textile memorial made by Gwen and 190 local people to highlight the tragic event in April 2013 when 1,134 garment workers died and 2,500 people were injured after the Rana Plaza an eight storey building in Dhaka, Bangladesh collapsed.

This building housed a number of separate garment factories, the upper four floors having been built without permission and out of substandard materials, which were not strong enough to bear the weight of the heavy machinery.

Previous to the collapse the Rana Plaza building had been declared unsafe and the building cleared of workers, the lower floor shops and bank were closed. Sole Rana the owner declared the building was safe for people to return to work, and the managers threatened to withhold a month’s pay from workers if they refused to return. This decision was driven by the fast fashion industry to complete orders on time.

When the Connecting Threads hanging was displayed at Leigh Road Baptist Church during the June 2018 Leigh Art Trail it was a quarter of the way completed, this generated a lot of interest and brought in more textile pieces from the public who were wanting to participate in the project, bringing the final total to 1,134 individual pieces one for every garment worker that died.

People of all ages from the local community stepped forward – including seven local schools, two colleges, the Embroiderer’s Guild and the W.I. Everyone’s work came together to create one enormous textile piece – the finished work being 9ft wide and 26ft long. Each 4 x 6.5 inch rectangle was sewn together with black netting representing the endless rows of work stations. Integral to the whole project are pieces of deconstructed denim clothing to demonstrate the many component parts that are needed to make up a finished garment.

After the hanging was completed it returned to Leigh Road Baptist church for the Eco Fair held in October 2019. Sir David Amess opened the fair, and showed great interest in the project.

If you would like more information please email me at info@leigh-on-sea.com.


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