The Dreamer A3 Giclée Print
Giclée Fine Art Print on Hahnemühle German Etching paper 310gsm 297 x 420 mm
Once upon a time in a town called Belfast there lived a wee dreamer. Her name was Millie. Like many women in this town, Millie worked in the linen mills. Now, this is no fairytale. Work in the mills was tough & wasn’t well paid but the work(wo)manship.. well it was incredible. The skill & talent of these women (because it was mostly women employed in this industry) & the quality of the product meant that Irish linen was prized throughout the world.. worn by royalty, supplied to The Ritz & Titanic and sold in luxury department stores from London to New York. Through the textile industry Belfast boomed & prospered.
Anyway, back to our Millie. She lives in a little terrace street in Sailortown with her family. Her Italian grandmother, a very skilled needlewoman, took in embroidery work from the nearby York St Mill. She passed on her craft to Millie and got her a job in the handkerchief ornamenting department at the mill. Millie is a good worker but dreams of life beyond the mill, beyond Belfast. She dreams of travelling to New York, of working in one of the glamorous department stores where her handkerchiefs are sold. The kind she sees in the films when she goes to the pictures with her pals Mary & Alice. Often on the way to the cinema she detours to Royal Avenue, walking by the new Bank of Ireland building and Sinclair’s Dept Store makes her feel like she’s on 5th Avenue in New York, the buildings are so modern and elegant. She doesn’t tell Alice and Mary that though, she says she just wants to go to the sweet shop at Smithfield to pick up a bag of humbugs… they wouldn’t understand because not everyone is a dreamer.
When she goes to Smithfield she likes to pop into Greer’s bookshop for a browse. A couple of months ago she picked up a copy of the Wizard of Oz and she’s been dreaming about ruby slippers ever since. She hopes one day that they’ll make a film of it. She’s saving up for a pair of gorgeous red shoes she saw in Dolcis on Castle Lane, she plans to wear them with a dress she’s making for the Mill dance at the Orpheus Ballroom. Working at the mill means she can buy fabric in the factory shop and with her skills she’ll be able to craft something beautiful from the ends of rolls. She’s thinking of a green, bias cut dress inspired by the gown her favourite film star Claudette Colbert wore in Cleopatra. Woolworths are holding ‘Free lessons in makeup and charm’ next week so she’s planning to go along to that. She knows she’s charming enough but hopes she might be able to snag a couple of free samples if she buys a lipstick. She’s really looking forward to it, she’s only been to the Orpheus once but it was so beautiful with its elegant staircase, stained glass windows, wood panelling & jazz music spilling out onto York Street.
Years later, the Orpheus would be filled with books, creativity and many, many dreamers, as it became home to the art college and its library. Remnants of those glamorous days survived.. the stairs, the panelling, the stained glass… even if the new inhabitants were somewhat less glamorous. The Orpheus is gone now but echos of elegant art deco Belfast still survive across the city, as do some of the mills. So next time you’re on the train or driving through Belfast and you pass under the shadow of a tall red-bricked chimney stack, or when you’re rushing around town, look above the shop fronts to the elegant upper floors of the buildings and take a moment to remember all the Millies & Dreamers who lived & worked in this city whose footsteps you might be walking in.
Prints will be rolled & packed in a postal tube. Complimentary 1st class post for UK.
10% of profits to the Oh Yeah Centre, Belfast.