REMNANT (55° 8' 0'' North)2008
Remnant was a cross-border, public art project which recorded both contemporary and historical elements of linen/garment factory work and culture in the North-West region.
The linen/garment industry existed in the North-West for over a century as a major source of employment. At its height 10,000 people worked in more than 30 shirt factories in Derry. Young people, particularly females, left school early to work in local factories and generations of the same family often worked in the industry. It has had a significant presence in the area over the last twenty years, employing over 3,500 people in plants across the county. However, garment sector production has now become highly globalised and characterised by continual waves of relocation, unravelling this once dominant textile industry.
Through a series of workshops Remnant documented the experiences of forty ex-factory workers using oral testimony, photographic portraits and video recording, which culminated in an installation and large-scale projection event at Fort Dunree in Winter 2008. The exhibition also presented large-scale photographs of derelict factories as a form of social archaeology which chronicled a significant local history.
The Remnant film includes footage of factory buildings, people at work and a wide range of participant narratives which epitomised an era. The soundtrack also features extracts from the Frank McGuinness play The Factory Girls. Communal singing was a strong tradition in local factories. Evoking that tradition, the soundtrack includes the recorded singing of Masie Grant who was a local factory worker along with extracts from instrumental music that factory workers in Derry would sing along to. The film also features the sound of the shirt factory horn, symbolising the last post for the factories.
COLLABORATORS: Frank McGuinness, (Playwright), John McCarter (McCarters Factory), Neil Doherty (Faulat Factory), Inishowen Development Partnership, Fort Dunree, Inishowen Community Radio, The Verbal Arts Centre, The Playhouse, The Nerve Centre.