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​'Build me a loom off of your back and your stomach' performance by Raisa Kabir

Turner Prize winner to open Textile and Place conference

10 April 2018

Lubaina Himid will speak at the event hosted by Manchester School of Art and The Whitworth

Turner Prize winner Lubaina Himid will open a unique two-day conference to illuminate the relationship between textiles and place in an age of globalisation, population displacements and political instability.

Hosted by Manchester School of Art and The Whitworth, the ‘Textile and Place’ (April 12-13) conference will demonstrate how textiles have always been used to tell stories about who we are and how and where we live.

The significance of textiles and their links in production, sustainability to place, in how it is worn, collected, and as marker of cultural identity, has been amplified by contemporary global issues.

Turner Prize winner

Keynote speaker and reigning Turner Prize winner Lubaina Himid is an artist and Professor of Contemporary Art at the University of Central Lancashire. Her art focuses on themes of cultural history and reclaiming identities. She was one of the first artists involved in the Black Art movement in the 1980s and continues to create activist art which is shown in galleries in Britain, as well as worldwide.

An international panel of artists and academics will discuss issues ranging from the 300-200BC Paracas Textile, one of the earliest examples of socially engaged cloth, to the traditional embroidery and bobbin lace craft of Afro-Brazilian warrior women, the domestic identity of ‘queer quilts’ and textile art which traces stories of migration.

Forgotten crafts such as the Aboriginal Australian textiles from the Northern Territory and works from the Fiber Art Movement in Atlanta will be discussed, as will innovations and sustainability challenges in the textiles industries.

Textile as a socially dynamic, communicative and active material offers a rich seam of enquiry into how textile participates and influences our lives.

Textile artist Raisa Kabir will perform as part of the event at the Whitworth on the Thursday evening. She utilises woven textiles, sound, video and performance to translate and visualise concepts concerning the politics of cloth, labour and cultural anxieties surrounding nationhood and borders.

Kabir’s work can be seen in the exhibition, Beyond Borders, currently on at the Whitworth. The exhibition brings together four artists working on issues around post-colonial identity, fragmentation, authenticity, displacement and belonging. These artists are based in Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and England, having developed artworks around these issues in response to the Whitworth’s and Manchester collections, experimenting with a range of media such as textiles, fibres, embroidery, film, photography and performance. The exhibition will highlight the changing landscape of the subcontinent in the 21st century, post independence and partition.

Alice Kettle, Professor of Textiles at Manchester School of Art at Manchester Metropolitan University and organiser of the conference, said: “Textile as a socially dynamic, communicative and active material offers a rich seam of enquiry into how textile participates and influences our lives.

“The historical links between Manchester School of Art and the Whitworth were formed at the establishment of the Design School under the direction of Walter Crane in the 19th century for training designers in Manchester's textile industry. The collections at the Whitworth represent this connection with textiles powerfully linked to the global political, economic, artistic and trading narratives of Manchester. 

Sense of place

“The School of Art continues to train students in a wide range of textile production in print, stitch, knit, weave and mixed media both as designers for fashion and interiors and using textiles as an artistic conceptual medium. 

“The collections at the Whitworth and the presentation of textiles demonstrate how textiles emphasise a sense of place and explores the histories of place and production and the contemporary challenges of sustainability.”

 Other speakers include:

  • Penny Macbeth, Dean of Manchester School of Art at Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Alistair Hudson, Director of the Whitworth and Manchester Art Galleries. Prior to his move to Manchester, Alistair was Director of Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art where his vision was based on the concept of the Useful Museum. In the preceding 10 years he was Deputy Director of Grizedale Arts which gained critical acclaim for its radical approaches to working with artists and communities, based on the idea that art should be useful and not just an object of contemplation.
  • Dominique Heyse-Moore, Senior Curator of Textiles and Wallpapers at the Whitworth
  • Catherine Harper, artist, writer and editor of TEXTILE: Cloth & Culture
  • Lesley Millar, Professor of Textile Culture and Director of the International Textile Research Centre at the University of the Creative Arts, and curator of some of the most significant British textile shows including Textural Space (2001) Cloth and Memory (2013‘H_er_e &_ _N_o_w : c_o_n_t_e_m_p_o_r_a_r_y_ _t_a_p_e_s_t_r_y_’ _(_2_0_1_6_-_1_7_)_
  • Kate Fletcher, Research Professor at the University of the Arts whose work has been pioneering in the fields of slow fashion and sustainability