This is an on-going body of work which takes the figure of a ‘forgotten’ weaver, Halimah Binti Abdullah, who participated in the 1924 Empire Exhibition in Wembley. A minor figure in the exhibition histories of Malaya, Halimah exists as a series of footnotes, gaining historical attention only for the act of a premature or untimely death from pneumonia, in London and away from home. Her remains are located in an unmarked grave in Woking. The product of her labour may be amongst the collections held at the Victoria & Albert Museum, and an incomplete textile on an incomplete loom may hold the record to her last creative act. As a weaver, her participation, or mode of operation in the Empire Exhibition was arguably two fold. She was both textile producer, and also producer of the image of Malay female handicraft labour at work.

 

Halimah Binti Abdullah, the expert weaver, who went to Wembly but didn’t return. Living behind the displays in the Malayan Pavilion, demonstrating her craft by day, performing the image of Malay female handicraft labour at work. From these limited footnotes, we can claim only the texts that were written, the documentation made, anything more will always be speculative. The facts as recorded, are also open to error, a mistranscribed comma, originally placed Halimah as coming from Singapore, a later return to the records highlighted the discrepancy and broadened the scope of the work to include discussions around Singapore's relationship to its Malayan past.​

 

 

 

Works within this body of research: