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Related links: The Abbott Carmichael Questionnaire
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Andy Abbott and Yvonne Carmichael, two artists who moved into the Village in the summer, are looking for help with an exciting new project – and turning first to Sentinel readers; many of whom have memories of mills - and the day they closed.

The pair are asking former millworkers in Yorkshire to share their stories with workers in the Italian town of Biella, who are now facing closure because of competition from China. "The irony is that the Italian mills were a factor in the decline of the Yorkshire mills," says Andy. "This exchange of experiences will give the Yorkshire workers a chance to heal old wounds. Meanwhile, the Italian workers might gain some understanding of what the future holds for them, both collectively and as individuals."

As part of the project, which will try to collate information about past trials and tribulations, methods used to deal with them and resulting successes, Andy and Yvonne have prepared a brief questionnaire and will exchange the responses of mill workers in Italy and Yorkshire.

The questionnaire  is to be published in the Italian newspaper 'Eco di Biella' on October 9th. An electronic version will go online this month, which will be accessible through the Saltaire Village website. In addition, this newspaper will be pleased to play its part by helping to make old-fashioned 'hard copy' available to readers.


The questionnaire has been written as an attempt to gather information about the public's attitudes and activity in work and play, with particular reference to how communities respond to recession. It is the artists' intention to have it completed by an equivalent number of people and a similar demographic in Biella and Yorkshire (focussing on Leeds, Bradford and Saltaire). The results will be presented alongside each other and potentially as a publication. This will help develop the relationship between Yorkshire and Biellese people, as it will act as a reference to the similarities in situation that unite them and attitudes and experiences that help individualise and characterise the people of the region.

Andy Abbott is a founding member of the art exhibition, events and publication collective Black Dogs and Yvonne Carmichael was responsible for the formation of the site-responsive social intervention project Resource CITE, which has toured all over the UK and played an important role in this year's British Art Show.

In July 2006, Yvonne and Andy were accepted as residents on the world-renowned Unidee programme at Cittadellarte Fondazione Pistoletto, an art centre founded by Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto to develop and spread a 'socially responsible' art practice internationally. ("Our art practice is based on the notion that art should directly enter people's lives", says Andy.)
They proposed to work on a project over the course of the four month residency that explored the links between Yorkshire towns that were affected by the textile industry and the Italian town of Biella, where Citadellarte is based.

Go to the questionnaire>


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