Language of Sculpture, a ‘Spirit of Mayflower’ project 

2020 is the 400th anniversary of the historic voyage of the Mayflower, from England to America, carrying passengers in search of a new life in a new colony. Those passengers are now known as the Pilgrims, and many of them have their origins in rural areas of Nottinghamshire, South Yorkshire and Lincolnshire - known as the Pilgrim Roots region. 

Sculptor Rachel Carter has been delving into this historic period whilst researching her family history which is deeply rooted in the Midlands, stretching back over 400 years, it is peppered with stories of migration albeit sometimes smaller in miles, the times and circumstances would still have caused great upheaval. 

Supported by Arts Council England and endorsed by Mayflower 400 as a Spirit of Mayflower project, Rachel began a series of artist residencies during 2018/19 to help inspire a new bronze sculpture The Pilgrim Women

Exploring migration and family history the first residency was with Nottingham College learning computer aided design alongside Architecture students. Then onto the Nottingham Industrial Museum on the Wollaton Park Estate surrounded by lace making machines and frame work knitters looms, similar to the ones her ancestors would have used in Nottinghams booming lace industry of the 18th and 19th century. 

Then creating a modern version of the Atlantic pilgrimage she will cross the Atlantic by freight ship in summer 2019. Once onboard, cut off from the outside world with only the sailors and the sea for company, she will chart the journey through both audio and text based diary. She will also be  spending time knotting, stitching and twisting twines and ropes to create woven textures whilst reading excerpts of journals written by William Bradford about his own crossing aboard the Mayflower in 1620. 

In Boston MA harbour she will be boarding a second vessel sailing to Provincetown for an artist residency at the Provincetown Monument & Museum. 

Once back in the UK Rachel will begin a series of weaving workshops engaging women from across the Pilgrim roots areas to create a historically accurate Tudor gown covered in intricate hand knotted panels. The completed dress, to be modelled by Rachel and captured using Photogrammetry, will be transferred into a computer program that will enable the sculpture to be 3D printed and then cast in bronze using the traditional lost-wax-technique.

Once back in the UK the programme of activities planned for 2019 into 2020 are:

  • Workshops and a tour of Mayflower activity through Inspire libraries in Nottinghamshire.

  • Exhibition at The Collection, Lincoln - A commissioned exhibition incorporating ideas for a new Mayflower sculpture and experiences of the summer residencies.

  • Using the latest digital technologies combined with lost wax casting, Rachel will create a bronze sculpture celebrating women’s Mayflower stories.

  • The project will include working with women from across the Pilgrim Roots area.

Rachel will be setting sail on ‘Atlantic Sky’, the sister ship of ‘Atlantic Star’, on a 11-13 day crossing from Liverpool to Halifax, CA before heading to Boston & Provincetown USA.

Rachel will be setting sail on ‘Atlantic Sky’, the sister ship of ‘Atlantic Star’, on a 11-13 day crossing from Liverpool to Halifax, CA before heading to Boston & Provincetown USA.

About the Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum 

PMPM Executive Director Dr. K. David Weidner, said that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the Museum and its visitors. “Rachel Carter’s Artist-in-Residency is unique because it’s a cross-cultural exchange and also an opportunity for visitors to see history in the making.  Rachel’s textile sculpture and expression of her own pilgrimage is an important part of our programming connected to the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower Pilgrims’ first landing in Provincetown,” said Dr. Weidner.   “Rachel’s journey, like present day pilgrims that visit Provincetown for safe-harbor, illustrates spirit and determination. Rachel Carter’s visit to the PMPM supports our inclusive mission of diversity, tolerance, and protecting and promoting our history.” 

Dedicated in 1910, the Monument commemorates the first landing of the Mayflower Pilgrims in Provincetown in 1620.  Here they signed the historic Mayflower Compact, the first agreement to establish a government by the people in the ‘new world;’ which became the cornerstone of American democracy. They explored the Cape for five weeks before sailing on to Plymouth. At 252 feet, the Monument is an engineering marvel and the tallest granite tower in the United States. Visitors can climb the Monument’s 116 steps and 60 ramps at a leisurely pace and enjoy a breathtaking view of the entire Cape and visit our webcam for a live “View from the Top.” The Provincetown Museum at the base of the Monument presents engaging exhibitions of important chapters in our national heritage and the Town’s history and oversees Provincetown 400, the committee developing the commemorations for 2020, the 400thanniversary of the Mayflower voyage and landing in Provincetown.  Pilgrim Monument and Provincetown Museum is a non-profit educational, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization. For more information please visit


Rachel’s project is supported by Mayflower 400uk


Visit the Pilgrim Roots area.