Meeting Point

Contemporary art is coming to Cromford Mills!

We are delighted to present ‘Cotton Labour’ by Hetain Patel, which was on display at Cromford Mills from 16 July until 18 September 2022.

The Artist

Hetain Patel is a visual artist and performance maker who works across multiple media and often asks big questions in his work around culture, identity and freedom. His TED talk ‘Who am I? Think again’ has had over 3m views and he is the winner of the Film London Jarman Award, 2019. He recently starred as a judge on Sky Arts’ show Landmark and has had multiple solo exhibitions all over the country in the last year. He has recently exhibited his work at the New Art Exchange in Nottingham and in the British Art Show 9 – a landmark touring exhibition that showcases and celebrates the best of recent British art – presently on display in Manchester from 13th May to 4th September.

The Artwork

Hetain’s work commemorates the forgotten workers from the mill’s history – both the local and the global.  The artwork honours the women and children who worked in Arkwright’s mill, the enslaved workers who picked the cotton in plantations overseas, and the Indian textile workers’ whose trade at first inspired and was then damaged by the success of the British cotton industry.

Cromford Mills’ workforce was made up mostly of women and children in the 18th century, but their names and faces have been lost to history. Instead, residents of Cromford and the surrounding area feature in these portraits.

The artwork honours the enslaved labour by featuring members of the Nottingham Bright Ideas Community Group to represent these individuals.

The artwork commemorates the Indian textile industry by including representatives from Hetain’s family honouring the earlier generations who picked cotton in Kenya and India.

You can read more about the artwork here.

Summer Events

Over the Summer of 2022,  Cromford Mills hosted four fantastic art workshops inspired by Hetain’s work:

4th August – Peg brooches with Weaveknitit’s Sarah Wheatley (Free)

11th August – Yarn portraits with Hana Fredericks (Free)

18th August – Shibori Dye a T-shirt with Mary Macdonald (£10 per person)

25th August – Printing Colours and Shapes (Free)


Making the Artwork

Thank you to the all the volunteers who offered to be part of the photography portraits that formed the outlines of the line drawings featured in the work.

The artwork was created in a series of workshops attended by the public.  Donations of recycled clothes were firstly cut into smaller pieces and twisted into yarn.  This yarn was then woven into the mesh structure to create the outlines of the workers.  As the artwork depicted workers connected to the mills, it was significant to use local labour to help create the pictures.  You can watch our films capturing the fantastic team effort from the workshops here:

Workshop 1: Making the Yarn

Workshop 2 – Weaving the Portraits

Arts and Heritage

The artwork was part of Meeting Point, the Arts&Heritage initiative that brings heritage sites and contemporary artists together. Funded by Arts Council England, the project works to create art installations that engage new audiences with our history and site in imaginative and challenging ways.

Find Out More

Hetain Patel’s website –

The British Art Show 9 –