Cotton Slave Adam



'Cotton Slave Adam' is part of a pair of framed textile works. 'Cotton Slave Adam' is made of an old cotton tablecloth and the cutwork is almost like tattoos, branding iron marks and symbols of circular trade of enslaved people and cotton across continents. He has a square across his stomach symbolising a packing box, where the cotton is traded and exported. The silver threads on his stomach are his guts and they symbolise raw material produced by him for Cottonopolis (metropolis of the 19th century textile production in Lancashire). The figures stitched onto the background with symbols and patterned pieces are references to the textiles that will be made from the cotton he has produced and their exchange for the new workforce in Africa. 'Cotton Slave Adam' and 'Cotton Slave Eve' explore Britain's involvement in transatlantic slavery through the use of cotton as a metaphor for today's global trade in 'sweat-shop' merchandise and garments. Kettle maintains that there is a thread connecting enslaved people on the plantations, through the establishment of manufacturing and the industrial revolution, to the contemporary economy of the UK. The major difference today is that manufacturing is now carried out in other parts of the world. The western appetite for cheap clothing is fuelled by prosperity and the exploitation of cheap labour elsewhere. 'Cotton Slave Adam' shows the historical reference to the plantation worker, as producer of cotton. 'Cotton Slave Eve' shows the contemporary worker, manufacturing garments for the western market.