Hetain Patel at Cromford Mills


Project Info


  • Hetain Patel


  • Cromford Mills
  • Arts&Heritage
  • Arts Council England

In 2021 Cromford Mills commissioned artist Hetain Patel to produce an artwork in response to their site as part of the Meeting Point programme.

Hetain Patel said:

“I’m delighted to have been selected for this Meeting Point commission, and look forward to working with the lovely team at Cromford Mills. I’m excited to be working with the site’s rich history and rethinking how we commemorate the forgotten people responsible for the success of Cromford Mills and the cotton industry, locally and globally.”

Cromford Mills is participating in the fourth Meeting Point programme, building on the success of previous and current programmes, which have seen 25 museums working with more than 50 museum professionals to create 25 new artworks and over 100 workshops.

Short History of Cromford Mills

Cromford Mills is the world’s first successful water powered cotton spinning mill, built by Sir Richard Arkwright in 1771, who invented the water frame and revolutionised cotton spinning. It is a key location in the history of the Industrial Revolution as the birthplace of mass production.

Built between 1771 and 1776 the two mills produced cotton thread with all stages of the cotton spinning process happening under one roof for the first time. The gritstone buildings were built to a high standard, and the mill complex, including associated warehouses were complete by the 1790s. Set within the Derwent Valley and Derbyshire Dales the surrounding countryside creates a beautiful environment.

The Arkwright Society was formed in 1972, growing out of the Arkwright Festival Committee, which ran a local celebration to commemorate this important and progressive industrialist. On the verge of demolition, Cromford Mills was bought by the Society in 1979 and the charity has been restoring it ever since. Although none of the original machinery remains, the exteriors of the buildings create an impressive atmospheric setting for visitors to enjoy.

Due to the success of dedicated individuals that form the Arkwright Society, Cromford Mills has been transformed from a derelict site doomed for demolition to one of World Heritage Status, employing a small team of 20 staff and a larger team of volunteers. The modern Cromford Mills site presents an impressive architectural statement of the industrial revolution and is Grade 1 listed.

The contemporary Arkwright Society has adopted its own green code and is actively seeking environmental solutions to power and waste. Today, Cromford Mills is an award-winning heritage attraction with a Visitor Centre, the Arkwright Experience, tours, cafés, and a range of retail and business tenants making us a busy, multi-use site with a diverse audience visiting all year round. The Arkwright Society, who own and manage Cromford Mills, is an educational charity devoted to the rescue of industrial heritage and helping to preserve the precious built and natural landscape in and around Cromford for the benefit of the public. It is part of the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site which was inscribed by UNESCO in 2001 and represents 15 miles of industrial landscape along the River Derwent.

The Artist

Hetain Patel is a Bolton born, London based visual artist and performance maker. His live performances, films, sculptures, and photographs have been shown worldwide from the Venice Biennale, Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art, Beijing, and Tate Modern, London to Sadler’s Wells, where he is a New Wave Associate. His work exploring identity and freedom, employing popular culture, choreography and text appears in multiple formats and media, intended to reach the widest possible audience. His video and performance work online have been watched over 50 million times, which includes his TED talk of 2013 titled, ‘Who Am I? Think Again’.

Patel is the winner of the Film London Jarman Award 2019, Kino Der Kunst Festival’s Best International Film 2020, and was selected for the British Art Show 9, a Hayward Touring exhibition for 2021/22.