Carrier Bag Fictions
Mateus Domingos
9 September – 28 October 2023
‘Carrier Bag Fictions’ is an exhibition by Mateus Domingos featuring textiles, drawings and text inspired by Loughborough’s Luddite history. In the 19th Century, technology transformed the work of textiles worker. The Luddites were a group of workers who resisted these changes through refusal, sabotage and threatening letters. Through workshops, Mateus hosted conversations about today’s digital technologies. Working with young people, a zine was constructed using Luddite letters and computer magazines. A collective net was made with families, gently weaving together histories of textiles, automation and social networks. These sessions have developed and informed the exhibition, drawing on communication and technology themes alongside Loughborough’s unique history. The show’s title is inspired by the writing of Ursula K. Le Guin, who redefined technology as a cultural carrier bag rather than a weapon of domination. This project took 28kg of carbon to produce. This was calculated using The Networked Condition carbon calculator tool.

Ludd Walk
This map is based on a walk led by Mateus Domingos as part of Carrier Bag Fictions. This map was produced as a digital resource and a fold-out zine, as a guide across the town to various locations associated with the stories of the Luddites – in particular the attack on Heathcoat & Boden’s factory on 29th June 1816. Use this resource to explore the town, considering the stories and questions that are linked to each location and how they make you feel about your relationship to work and technology.

Our 2-mile walk is going to weave a small path through the town, where there are plenty of marks still left from our manufacturing history. The locations are all hyperlinked below if you need a helping hand following the route. If you enjoy the walk, you can listen back to Mateus’ talk at Show + Tell, here.

As you walk, talk to your fellow walkers and consider these questions and stories. How does this history make you feel about this place? How do you feel about the technologies we use today? Can the development of technologies be paused or stopped?

A:  Modern Painters, New Decorators

Did you know that underneath Carillon Court there is an old pub? It was called The Green Man, and was built on the site of an older pub of the same name. The Green Man appears as one of the places the Luddites meet in the days and hours preceding the “Loughborough job”.

B: Chesterson House

Cross the road outside of Tesco and head towards the church yard. There’s a building at Rectory Place that was a grammar school around the time of the Luddites. These are the sorts of buildings we are looking out for.

C: All Saints Church Yard

If we wander through the church yard, there are lots of gravestones from the time and people are often listed with some detail of their job or work. See what kinds of jobs you can find. What types of work, craft or jobs do you think should survive the next 200 years?

D:  Box works

30 Meadow Lane is listed as a dye-works in early maps of Loughborough. These sort of factories were developed for an increase in production. Between the 17th and 19th centuries, machines were improved and incorporated into the industry, reshaping work, and gradually moving it from homes and small workshops into the larger factories. Imagine the atmosphere stood here when this was a functioning factory. What would the sights, sounds and smells be? Now we wander on, to the canal.

The canal was still fairly recent to the Luddites - this section opened in 1778. Canals served the industrial revolution allowing more goods to be moved more swiftly than roads and carts allowed. Although this would soon be replaced by the railways.

E: Towles Factory

We’ve arrived at Towles Factory. Have a look and see if you can spot what sort of factory this was on the side of the building. As far as we know, this Towle is not connected to James Towle – the first to be arrested as part of the “Loughborough job”. TP Towle was very successful in establishing different hosiery factories, here and in Sileby, Coalville and further away.

F: John Taylors Bell Foundry

The Bell Foundry is an important part of Loughborough’s heritage, it’s post-Luddite as it was established in 1841. Bell casting has not become automated, and this is the last surviving Bell Foundry in the UK. It’s interesting how parts of this time survive more visibly and we celebrate them as part of our culture and community.

G:  Workers cottages

Now we come to Gregory Street, where there is an early 19th century house still remaining. This house is a very rare and intact survivor of a type of worker’s cottage once common in Loughborough. How do you think they may compare to the houses of the factory owners?

H: Heathcoat & Boden’s houses

Can you locate the plaque at 38 Leicester Road? These were the homes of the owners of the factory attacked by Luddites in 1816. Several years ago a tunnel was found underneath Heathcoat’s house. Although no one will ever be able to prove that the tunnel was dug to protect him from Luddite attack, nobody has managed to find any other explanation.

I: Old Packe Horse

Now we cross the road to the pub. Here the building helpfully proclaims its age, take a look at the back wall. The Old Packe Horse appears in accounts of the Loughborough job. The Luddites met here to drink rum and eat mutton chops.

J:  Heathcoat & Boden’s Factory

Our walk ends at Iceland, can you find the plaque? This is the site where Heathcoat & Boden’s factory once stood. Here we do have to imagine! It was larger than most of the buildings around it, furiously loud and busy. There were three floors, and 53 machines across the building.  On the night of the attack, there were guards on the ground floor and men working above, the machines were running.

More Information
Mateus Domingos is an artist and writer based in Leicester. He is interested in text, narrative and the use of digital spaces. He has made games, websites, 3D prints and fictional alphabets. His research focuses on experimental artist-networks, workshops and tool-building. He explores alternative web protocols and shared computing within the context of care and ecology. He is currently a researcher at the Centre for the Study of the Networked Image, a research centre based in the School of Arts and Creative Industries at London South Bank University. He has been a producer for Phoenix, Leicester and is a member of Two Queens, Leicester.

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