At the centre of the Yorkshire Year of Textiles project, organised through the Cultural Institute at the University of Leeds, the life of the sculptor Mitzi Cunliffe is commemorated. Her stone carving Man Made Fibres on display on the university campus depicts two open hands cradling interwoven lines and was commissioned for the old School of Textiles. In later life Cunliffe sufferred increasingly with Arthritis. The repetitive severity of the working processes she employed to make her sculpture may have exacerbated this condition. In the exhibition Interweave, Deborah Gardner reflects, trhough a body of drawings, on the effects of arthritis on hands. This exploration ranges from studies of arthritic hands from members of the PPI group at the Leeds Musculoskeletal Biomedical Research Unit and a recognition of their support for one another and their understanding of their own disease to studies of pigmented bio images of cellular migrations and the finger like protrusions of tissue growth where erosion and inflammation occurs. Underpinning this is a consideration of the increased risk for textile workers to develop arthritis, an examination of weave patterns and their similarities with human anatomical structures and an acknowledgement of the considerable contribution of workers' hands in the preparation of worsted yarn for weaving at what was Moorside Mills, now Bradford Industrial Museum.
Deborah Gardner is a visual artist who exhibits nationally and internationally in galleries, museums, cemeteries, sculpture parks, industrial regeneration sites and site-responsive projects. Most recently she completed a residency, Conway Actants, at Conway Hall, London, and exhibition Monument at the Musee des Beaux Arts, Calais and is currently in a two person exhibition, Textures of Place, touring from Poland to the Uraine, which reflects on the legacy of the textile industry in both Central Europe and Yorkshire. Deborah is a member of the Royal Society of British Sculpture.