Plaques made from old spinning reels, dedicated to ‘forgotten’ female millworkers, are part of a major exhibition at Salts Mill, Saltaire, featuring artists from around the world exploring the relationship between cloth and memory.

The exhibition explores how our earliest memories resonate with fabric, from the touch of a blanket to a particular print reminding us of childhood.

“In the fabric we wear close to our skin, or touch in daily life, we leave a memory or a trace of ourselves behind,” said curator Lesley Millar.

Called Cloth and Memory, the exhibition features more than 20 artists using photography, archive material, new technologies, found objects, poetry and performance, and is in the original Spinning Room, once said to be the largest industrial room in the world.

Using the 1891 Census, artist Caren Garfen has embroidered white plaques onto vintage wooden reels. Each plaque commemorates the ‘unnoticed women’ who worked at the mill, and tells something of their life.

Local artist Reece Clements was inspired by his great-grandmother and great-great grandmother who worked in spinning at Salts Mill.

Other artists recorded interviews with former millworkers and used archive photographs from Bradford Industrial Museum of millworkers in Saltaire and mill-owners at Bradford’s Wool Exchange.

Organisers are appealing for people to donate old mirrors for an installation by Japanese artist Yoriko Yoneyama comprising 30 mirrors and a web of cooked rice gently pressed on fine cotton thread. The artist is seeking 30 old mirrors, of any size or period, which will be returned at the end of the exhibition.

Cloth and Memory, running from August 18 to November 3, is supported by organisations including the University for the Creative Arts, which provides a platform for contemporary craft, Arts Council England and Salts Mill.