British Textile Biennale 2021: find out what to expect

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Large-scale images adorning public buildings at a celebration of Italian sportswear – the British Textile Biennale 2021 (BTB21) launched across Lancashire.

The national event returns this year with new artist commissions, exhibitions and performances presented against the backdrop of the infrastructure of the cotton industry.

As part of the brand’s 50th anniversary celebrations, CP Company will present a retrospective dedicated to five decades of Italian sportswear and the enduring legacy of Massimo Osti.

Turner Prize winner Lubaina Himid will present Lost Threads, a major new work responding to the Gawthorpe Textile Collection in Burnley, exploring the stories of industrialization, women’s work, migration and globalization in the Great Barn of Gawthorpe Lobby.

At the Blackburn Cotton Exchange, Jasleen Kaur, Jamie Holman and Masimba Hwati will explore complex issues through family histories and experiences on three continents to reveal the residual cultural identities of the British Empire in The British Invasion exhibit.

For six months, the artists and the curators interacted by giving each other the time to consider all aspects of their individual practices and to present their work together. The resulting exhibition is the “mess” of new cultures that emerged as a result of colonization, with each artist revealing something personal in order to better understand or make sense of politics.

At the Haworth Art Gallery, Accrington, fashion historian Amber Butchart will present Cloth Cultures, an exhibition featuring pieces selected from the Gawthorpe Textile Collection.

In the home of another former factory owner in Rossendale, The 62 Group of Textile artists presents Connected Cloth, a contemporary textile art exhibition at The Whittaker, focusing on the global context of textiles.

In the year marking the 90th anniversary of Gandhi’s historic visit to Darwen, Khadi is a new work by Bharti Parmar that focuses on the textile archives of the Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, exploring how textiles, and in particular Khadi , could represent the ‘black’ Indian Corps.

The work will include a collaboration with award-winning Blackburn-born filmmaker Sima Gonsai.

Gandhi’s homespun philosophy is the inspiration behind Homegrown / Homespun; a collaboration with designer Patrick Grant, Super Slow Way and North West England Fibreshed.

The tension between the industrialization of cotton manufacturing and the traditional cottage industry is the starting point of James Fox’s new book, Rights, Riots and Routes, which explores the history of protest and punishment via riots. Lancashire trade breakers in 1826.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Reetu Sattar explores contemporary tensions between traditional Bangladeshi diaspora cultures and the forces of modernity through the ever-changing history of the cotton industry which will be on display at Queen Street Mill, Burnley

Also at Queen Street Mill, Collateral, by Brigid McCleer, features a memorial to the hundreds of workers who died in factories and sweatshops around the world that supply the global garment industry.

Raisa Kabir presents her work at Queen Street Mill as an extension of her Art in Manufacturing residency, commissioned by the National Festival of Making and the Textile Biennial in 2020. Inspired by The Textile Manufactures of India, an 18-volume set of books by fabric samples assembled in 1866 by John Forbes Watson, Kabir worked at John Spencer Textiles in Burnley to create his own personal woven designs that relate to the collective imagination of the place and of belonging to East Lancashire.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Emerging artist Azraa Motala creates a new series of painted portraits in co-commission with The Harris, Preston. Unapologetic challenges the ongoing narrative of ‘otherness’ and provides a platform for a neglected community of young British South Asian women in Lancashire, whose painted portraits will be on display in the collection of the Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery and reproduced on banners, hung on municipal buildings in Blackburn Town Hall, Nelson Library, The Howarth in Accrington and Towneley Hall in Burnley.

To learn more about the British Textile Biennale 2021 click here


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