Daintifyt, a brassiere factory in Cookstown….who worked there, what did they produce, when did it open, why did it close… these questions and more ran thorough my mind when I discovered the existence of Daintifyt on a three day research trip to Cookstown for Regenerate Projects.
Of course, for me as an artist, it was an ideal subject for a community and art based project that drew its inspiration from Cookstown, its inhabitants, its industry and recent history.
Roused by the idea that older people are containers of history, myself and Kristian Borysevicz, sound and video artist set about finding and interviewing a fascinating and diverse group of people who had worked at Daintifyt. We wanted to use their memories of Daintifyt to paint a picture in our imagination of the factory and the industrial process. We met many highly skilled people, gradually over the month the interviews mounted up, the memorabilia collection increased and our understanding of and respect for Daintifyt grew as did my waistline from the many teas and cake consumed in friendly post interview chats!
Early days trying to attract interest in the project.
Interviews and Reunion Lunch
Photos by Kristian Borysevicz, Geordie Sewell and Lesley Yendell.
Some of the memorabilia kindly loaned to us.
‘The old Daintifyt Factory’, Cookstown, Northern Ireland.
Preparing the Exhibition Photos by Diego Gutierrez
From amongst the treasure trove of information and memorabilia we were so kindly lent I had sufficient information to construct sculptural works influenced by the garments produced at Daintifyt, Kristian apart from the generation of valuable photographic imagery and sound was able to create a slide show from the many Daintifyt photos we received.
The exhibition and launch
With the disappearance of Daintifyt a shared past of work, camaraderie, friendships and memories also disappeared, what was left of the factory still stands, its present state does not leave its former employees unmoved. We were able to visit it on various occasions with a view to the final exhibition. The place was disappointingly absent of any reference to Daintifyt although there is a sense of presence, a presence that had been created for us here by peoples memories, memories of the roar of machines, the bustle, the speedy stitchers, supervisors, steam dollies, messenger girls, mechanics, voices, popular music and so much more.
The final exhibition ‘Daintifyt Revisited’ took place in the old Daintifyt factory in 2009. By the end of the show every face in every photo had been identified and a visitors book was filled with messages.