This work has been developed during a residency called Archivist GM at Bolton Museum Archives and History Centre and takes inspiration from the 200-year anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre.
During the residency I became interested in considering the small square cloth of a handkerchief as record keeper of the past and of individual and imagined experience. I discover in James Fenimore Cooper’s essay ‘Autobiography of a pocket handkerchief’ the object of the handkerchief considered as narrator, literally remembering the course of its life. After investigation at the People’s History Museum in Manchester I learn of the Peterloo Handkerchief, produced to keep the memory of the massacre alive. In the archival material presented to me at Bolton Museum Archives I uncover a narrative handed down through generations of one young individual called Isaac Entwistle on the day of Peterloo. It is not macabre, but an astute observation from a 15-year-old boy handed down and interpreted through generations. The intimacy of the story provides a source into the past, while the smallness of a pocket handkerchief becomes a surface to work through this narrative from my own personal and contemporary approach.
I have created a series of textural collages digitally subsequently printed onto handkerchiefs. Akin to a note book, they attempt to explore my relationship to a story of Entwistle. My aim was to achieve an insight into elemental forms of tactile experience in the moment, that may connect me back to the time Entwistle set off on his own journey.
The residency is supported by the ArtivistGM programme, a collaboration with Greater Manchester Combined Authority, GM Libraries & Archives, and Manchester Histories.