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St. Peter's Church, Belper

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Thread:Threading through communities

Commissioned by Beam for Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site Great Place Scheme funded by National Lottery Heritage Fund and Arts Council England

Beam website - Threading through communities

Threading through Communities was a socially-engaged community project. Seiko created a lantern design influenced by the shape of old bobbins stored in the basement of Strutt's North Mill, and the Japanese tradition of illuminating paths with lanterns. The lanterns combined cotton thread, including John Smedley’s Sea Island Cotton, paper and other natural materials to thread through each lantern to create beautiful effects.

Seiko was inspired by how the socially-minded Strutt family built a thriving community in Belper and wanted to shine a spotlight on the unique areas they built and create an opportunity for communities to get together. I was also fascinated by the World Heritage Site status of Derwent Valley Mills and found many similarities to the Tomioka Silk Mill in Japan which was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 2014.

She worked with 500 people from local community groups such as the Belper Clusters Heritage Group, local schools, Church and craft groups to make the lanterns. These were then installed in St Peter’s Church located in a historically significant area in Belper where the workers from the cotton mills lived. This area contains some of the earliest examples of industrial housing in the world. The local Captive Audience Theatre Company recited Belper Clusters Heritage Group, Jeanette Burton's poems.