Hebden Bridge Theatre Group help launch new exhibits at Bankfield Museum
Monday, 24 January 2011
Bankfield Museum was the meeting place recently of representatives from several important Halifax-Calderdale groups, all ‘woven’ together by Square Peg Productions of Hebden Bridge. Their common purpose: to launch a new exhibition at the museum featuring a rag rug and commemorative book which were created as part of the summer production by Square Peg: Woven in the Fabric, a play on the lives of Martha Crossley of Dean Clough and Lavena Saltonstall, suffragette and journalist of Halifax and Hebden Bridge.
During the performances of the play by Anna Carlisle (Angie Cairns), which took place over eight days in August 2010 at Square Chapel and Halifax Minster, members of the audience all assisted in the weaving of a rag rug and signed their names in a book of contributors. The rug, created by Jane Scargill, traced the image on the publicity poster for the production: three women’s heads in silhouette against a background of hills and mills.
Over more recent months, Jane and her team have completed the rug ready for exhibition at the Bankfield Museum. In addition, the signatures of the audience contributors have been decorated and beautifully bound into a book by members of the Calderdale Calligraphers. The book follows the style of the Book of Signatures given in 1877 to John Crossley (son of Martha) on his retirement from Dean Clough mills - and which featured the signatures (or sometimes simply marks) of over 3,000 of his workpeople. The book is now in the custodianship of Rose Taylor in the Archives department of Crossley Heath School and attenders at the launch ceremony were privileged to be able to see the original book as well as the new version created by the Calligraphers.
At the ceremony, the rug was hung, by Bankfield Museum’s Joan Tillotson, in a splendid glass display case at the foot of the central stairs, accompanied by the book of signatures.
Most excitingly, the launch at Bankfield coincided almost exactly with the re-laying at Square Chapel of the gravestones of Martha and John Crossley which had been mislaid for several decades (following the closure of Dean Clough mills in 1982) and only re-discovered in August 2010 - also, curiously, coinciding almost exactly with the production of Woven in the Fabric. The stones were returned to the safe keeping of surviving members of the Crossley family and were relaid only yesterday where they would have originally been: close to the south door of the Square Chapel - after years of languishing under piles of rubble at a cemetery near Elland.
The exhibition of both the rug and the book of signatures continues until March, after which time it will move to Halifax Minster.