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Kettle, A., 2023.

Threads: Breathing Stories into Materials

Output Type:Exhibition
Dates:8/7/2023 - 1/10/2023
Number of Works:40

Threads: Breathing stories into materials explores the primacy of textiles as a narrative form. The word textile is derived from 'text' which underscores the interrelationships between concepts of tensile material and language. The research project asks how textiles can materialize subjectivities through metaphor and substance as a form of text. The project aims to convey how artistic textiles can register multiple and complex narratives, as a palimpsest of counter narratives and subtexts to record human experience. Adopting (Jefferies, 2018) description of textiles as 'unstable and subject to change' to 'untether' deterministic historical narratives, Threads uses 'the rhetorical possibilities of non-alphabet composing' (Arellano 2022, 20), where textile processes operate as a narrative material sites. Textiles acts as a conduit between cultural traditions and contemporary practices, amplifying its geo-socio-political associations merged with personal affectivity. Threads created a series of presentations, commissioned works, residencies, resources, tours and participatory activities to connect individual and collective narratives as a form of 'future orientated remembering', 'embedded within the process of making', in material and symbolism (Hemmings 2012, 57). Featuring 21 international intergenerational artists, including Turner prize winner Lubaina Himid, Threads also commissioned new and participatory works. Nigerian artist Ifeoma U. Anyaeji received the first ACBMT International Artist Residency Award to create work on site. Kettle's engagement projects linked refugee charities in Bristol and Karachi through accompanying exhibitions Stitching Together, and Common Threads with the British Textile Biennial and the cushion project with Christopher Farr Interiors. With over 185,000 visitors and extensive coverage including the Guardian, Financial Times and Spectator, Threads has significantly contributed to centering the debate on textiles beyond a marginalised and gendered medium (Art_Textiles, 2016, Entangled 2017, The New Bend, 2023,) as a powerful narrative device for contemporary commentary, one which weaves together the affects of politics of labour, trade, migration and identity.