Cotton Famine Road

Vicky Price
9 months ago

Cotton Famine Road site research. New research drawings made by frottage, sandstones on drafting film onto cobbles that were laid in the mid-1800's by out of work cotton mill workers. 

The Cotton Famine was created by a civil war in America where imports of raw cotton travelled by boat to Rochdale, were halted with strikes and fighting. 

Notes of conversations from the site visit:

There are patches of smaller cobble stones and areas of large square stones. The frottage drawings are from a section of the preserved cobbled that does allow traffic - tractors and 4 x 4s.

Sections were chosen for stones of interest, uniformity and irregular patterned stones.

I wonder if anyone chose rogue or 'unsuitable' stones on purpose - some are very small, lined, gouged and non-uniform in size and texture. Where did the stones originate? 

We talked about how the stones were brought to the site - I guessed by horse and cart. It must have been hard work loading the stones at one end and unloading them at the other end.

The stones feel warm to touch. The day has been a sunny one. There is peace on the road, the noise of skylarks and other small birds. The views are over Rochdale, Oldham and areas of Manchester. In the other direction there are wind turbines. Over 200 years ago this road would have a place of noise and hardwork, open to the weather of the North West. 

In line with the geological nature of my location work within my residency, I am using Jurrasic limestone lithography stones in the print workshop at UCLan. I have been well supported by the research lead Tracy Hill and research technician Kathryn Poole within the ArtLab Contemporary Print Studio. 

My frottage drawings on drafting film show tiny holes, scoured by lumps of chosen sandstone. In the studio against a window they show light and pinholes that I have begun to record with fine linear drawings and loose graphite rubbings. The drawings hold some heritage secrets of the actions of hard-working hands, who willingly chose to build a road in solidarity of cotton blockades and the famine. 

My next stage as a final recording is stone lithography, expertly advised by the printmaking staff.