Left; Childs Play, 2014, Oil on patterned cotton fabric 70 x 90 cm. Right; The Secret Of Titus Success, 2017, Oil, alpaca and silk fabric and embroidery on striped cotton fabric, 125 x 90 x 7 cm.
weavers, Gandhi left Darwen with their full support, cheered on by their rallying cries, causing considerable embarrassment to the establishment. In End of Empire Schmidt captures this historic visit when Gandhi met with these factory workers, at the height of his swadeshi movement. Using press photographs and archival images of export labels from British-made goods for India, Schmidt centres Gandhi emerging from an original 1930s English Paisley print as a defiant civil rights leader. The complex layers of Schmidt’s artworks often combine fabrics chosen for their cultural or historic significance, layered with objects, paint, print or stitch. Many of them act as memorials to those workers in the textile industry who have either tragically lost their lives or been silenced in oppressive supply chains.
Cotton, its cultivation, manufacture and trade, features prominently in many of the artist’s works. Two artworks Morris's Dilemma and The Spectre, previously on display at the William Morris Gallery, use the backdrop of Morris’s patterns Brother Rabbit and Honeysuckle & Tulip. Overprinted or painted with images of menacing machines and cylinders stamped with CAPITAL and LABOUR, the viewer is struck by the ironic connection between material, production and the designer’s emphasis on the handcrafted design. In Child’s Play, a painted image of a young Uzbekistani girl looks out wearily towards the viewer as she is bent over, collecting bolls of cotton in a makeshift-sac. Her image is set against a printed children’s fabric depicting farmyard animals. This material has been specifically chosen by the artist as it is marketed as