The Fielden Project

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Eleanor Mulhearn

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The work installed here came about through reading histories and statements of Victorian mill children. Desperately long working days, insufficient food, lack of both education and time at rest and for play must have fragmented hope for any kind of change in these childrens’ lives. John Fielden was eventually successful in passing through parliament the “Ten Hours Act”, putting at least some time restriction on the working day for children, but the legislation was generally unpopular. An opponent of John Fielden’s once stated:

“As [their] nimble little fingers are useful to us, as they conduce to our prosperity, add to our wealth and assist us in rivalling all other nations of the world in the worldly race for riches, we cannot dispense with [their] labour”

The paper children I have made are fragmenting. They are multiples. Cheap and replaceable. But each is crafted with great care and has its own individual characteristics. In the church, the changing light will alter their translucence through the day. They are made as a votive of respect and remembrance.