Our 2019 under 18 winner was Nana’s Saltaire Blood by Anya Trofimova age 14. The runner up was Unjust System by Suhani Ahuja and third place went to My Outfits by Claire Gee.
In the adult category, first place went to Salts Mill by Isobel Thrilling (pictured). Second place was awarded to Saltaire Souls by Alison Hughes and the third place was Engagement by Emma Storr.
Nana’s Saltaire Blood by Anya Trofimova
For her it had been spools of wool closed into fists,
knots of thread pulled so taught against the skin
you would mistake them for blood clots.
Sometimes, watching her fingers curling
back into their tiny shells, I’d think of how
a seam left open brings out the scars,
like the yellow stain sticking out of a neck fold.
To keep one is to improvise,
to mend spaces
tightly with thread and needle on skin.
Sometimes, staggering into a fabric shop
My fingers will stop, despite myself,
on the erratic linens, the peach organza
sprawled like a pink bubble-gum sea,
light textile and enough bends
for a knot.
Sometimes, I’m swept into
of wearing the sheer tissue-like textile
into the abdomen of my palm,
sweating leather wax, mouth
all feathery, and sinking
like a sticky sweet stripe.
Sometimes, I’d stare at her painful hands,
big on shrunken wrists, and know that
coarse wool must run in her blood, or else brocade, sewn seamlessly.
Salts Mill by Isobel Thrilling
Fresh scent of lilies circles the
girders, white ghosts,
pale thermals rising from
unswung censers of cut-glass.
Here machines once wove colours
from the moors, blue, purple and
green, the textures of Yorkshire
wools mixed with alpaca, or fabric
from hessian made into sacks.
This hall was strung with fine strings, yet the
music was heavy-metal, looms for
harps that rang with the song of work,
the clack of clogs
Now the sun gilds paintings and
books, notelets, alive with
arabesques, scroll gold,
huge, oriental vases bloom like
I came with my son and a friend, we meandered
alone, yet threads of tenderness
spread between us like weft.
Unjust System by Suhani Ahuja
A thread weaves the blanket of time,
A running stitch woven delicately,
The fabric ticks,tears and transforms
From little pieces to one thing whole
The journey starts with several ingredients,
At first a plant found in nature alone
A tender hand picks the soft cotton
Ripping it untimely from its pure soul
Away it travels far to a distant land ,
Choking its fellow comrades on the way,
The thick fumes plummet from the truck
To waft in the toxic air with the factory ones
The main magic is performed here,
When the workers sweat from dusk till dawn
The buzzing machines hammer and nip
The colourful pieces blending into one
The worker’s tank tops plaster to them
As their eyes unwaveringly drift over the clock
The sight of the master looming over them
Desperation and distress filling the air
The products leave in front of their eyes
Feelings of longing have to be suppressed
If only they could keep their hard work
Free themselves from this poverty
Just few days later…
The fine cotton coutoure work
Is decorated across shop floors
For overrated prices of hard work
But then why do the industrious workers
Not emerge victorious in this battle
After all their toil, time and talent
Has been put across in the project?
Saltaire Souls by Alison Hughes
The mill stands proud and emphatic.
Resilient, unmoving. Stone, iron, wood.
A gutted form, an exoskeleton.
An abandoned carapace amongst silent hills.
Emptied of masters, machines,
manual manipulators of thread and fabric.
Only time separates us from the throng.
Hearts beating, air breathing.
Hands on machinery spinning warp and weft,
weaving woolly webs.
And I can hear the thrill and thrum,
the skittle skattle, dash and trap of the shuttle.
Cacophony. Clogs on cobbles.
The cough of dust laden air.
They walk amongst us.
Hands drift across art, turn books,
linger on old images. A whisper, an echo.
Can you feel them?
A thousand hearts beating, lips murmuring,
eyes watching, fingers fastening.
Time is tentered out.
They are here.
My Outfits by Claire Gee
I started off in white cotton,
little bows with bunnies dancing.
I cooed and failed, white puke spewing-
outfit ruined, baby giggling happy.
Next came little denim dungarees-
rolled up and sprayed with mud.
Pockets full of string, lollies and tissue-
running to my mommy giggling.
Next came wool flannel- a blazer across my chest,
the school badge shining in the light.
Year 7 awaited, then graduation after
the uniform representing my journey.
Now I wear a white silk dress, trailing to the floor,
sequined bodice and long veil flowing.
Vows that I will love you til we are old.
Vows more outfits will come to be.
Engagement by Emma Storr
Your threads hold me, pull me into
your worsted weave. I hear
your heart in the treadle-beat,
steady and true to me.
I stretch my arms across your frame’s
embrace, touch my bridal dress
of wool, teased and spun on bobbins
that feed your hungry clatter.
Skeins of silk twist light within
its length. I measure your devotion
with my hands: my palms’ span,
the inches of my thumbs.
Salt’s Mill beside the Aire will be
our church, the weir our witness.
I’ll wear your plaited ring of yarn
as proof, my loom, my love.