Diffusion Festival Logo Revolution 1-31 May 2017 bullhorn Created with Sketch. Created with Sketch.

The Human Fabric

This project is an investigation into the industrial site of the British Nylon Spinners at Mamhilad near Pontypool, which was built as a high-tech facility for the production of nylon thread, a man-made fabric developed by DuPont in the 1930s. Built in 1948, the factory was designed by architect Sir Percy Thomas and, at the height of nylon production in the 1960s, it was estimated that nearly 10,000 people worked throughout this vast industrial complex.

In common with other new technology industries based on research and development, the plastics industry was associated with technological advancements that would lead to the material enhancement in the lives of ordinary people. The development of new man made fabrics, plastics and chemicals were credited with helping to lighten the burden of everyday domestic chores and promised a new world of comfort and convenience.

The exhibition shows contemporary images taken at the Mamhilad factory over the last three years, together with historical archive images and films on the manufacturing process of nylon from the Pontypool Museum Archive. The workforce at Mamhilad shared a faith in the benefits of scientific and technological progress and felt they were contributing to a promise held by society at large that all subsequent generations might look forward to a future characterised by material and social improvement. Through the presentation of these diverse threads of testimony we can perceive the aspirations of a generation that hoped to create a new and better society, a bright new social fabric for everyone.   

Artist Profile(s)

Robert Smith