Adana Archaeology Museum, Turkey – 2018


Samuel Ivan Roberts: I made a sleeping mat crafted with locally grown fabric filled with cotton collected from the side of the road and a ground sheet constructed by local tradesmen. It can be rolled up and easily transported.

I have an interest in supply chain transparency and I was excited to see cotton growing in the fields that I knew Adana was renown for. I was struck on my first day during a visit to the Anavarza Ruins to see mounds of cotton by the side of the road, a wasted by-product of a recent harvest.

Cotton is a textile that hides in plain sight, in wide array clothing and domestic items; it has a traumatic history and many modern concerns. The fabric conjures ideas of comfort, safety and the home. In addition to the pomegranates and oranges seemingly growing everywhere, easily finding surplus cotton in Adana made an impression of the fertile nature of the region and I find it meaningful that this fibre of snug contentment is found so readily amongst the dirt of the road. I wanted to collect this overlooked material displaced between locations and create something functional.

I bought a bike and journeyed south. I passed many industrial cotton processing factories and smaller storage units with cotton balls on the side of the road almost the whole way. Amongst ubiquitous plastic waste at the roadside I stopped to collect bags of cotton. Then outside Solaki I found my first fields of the plant. On this trip I received strange looks and kindness from strangers, from the old man who fixed my brake by stabbing it with a screwdriver, to sharing tea and conversation with new friends and water generously and insistently given for free to a cyclist in the midday heat.
Finding my place here in Adana I used this work to sleep on the roof of the house where I am staying and fall asleep looking at the stars.

The cotton fields close up