British Textile Biennial 2023 at Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery and other venues

Creative Tourist
British Textile Biennial 2023
Dead White Man, Jeremy Hutchison, 2023 Photo credit – Dani Pujalte

British Textile Biennial at Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, Blackburn 29 September — 29 October 2023 Entrance is free

Showcasing boundary-pushing artistry from across the globe, the British Textile Biennial returns to Lancashire with a month-long programme of unmissable installations. 

Now in its third iteration, East Lancashire once again plays host to the Biennial, which this year brings together artists and communities from the Global North and South to tell the arresting stories of trade and power, past and present, across continents.

The Biennial’s installation sites hug the Leeds & Liverpool canal – a historic waterway at the heart of the textiles revolution – to tell the stories of this Northern industrial centre and its communities, the British imperialism that helped build it, and the continuing imperial legacy in the Global South today.

Dead White Man, Jeremy Hutchison, 2023. Photo credit – Dani Pujalte

Monster sculptures will haunt the historic Tony’s Ballroom as part of Jeremy Hutchison’s ‘Dead White Man’. Constructed from post-consumer garments bound for the Global South, the surreal, totemic figures illustrate what Hutchison describes as ‘zombie imperialism’.

And discarded clothing is also central to ‘Ofong Ufok’, an installation in the Cotton Exchange in Blackburn by Nigerian artist Victoria Udondian. Created in collaboration with refugee and immigrant textile workers in New York, the colossal wall hangings are patchworks of post-consumer waste that will leave visitors in disbelief at the literal and human scale of the issue.

Equilibrium Wind, Thierry Oussou, 2023. Photo credit – Thierry Oussou

Cotton is at the heart of several of the Biennial installations: In Rossendale, Jacob Cartwright and Nick Jordan’s ‘Larksong’, a new film installation in the chapel, presented alongside drawings, found objects, printed textiles, live performance and spoken word poetry, explores the layered history of Goodshaw Chapel, a non-conformist chapel built in 1765 funded by local handweavers and farm labourers. 

Back in Blackburn, Thierry Oussou presents three hectares-worth of raw cotton on the floor of The Exchange. A striking installation, Oussou collaborated with students and local workers to farm the cotton in Benin, making visible the often invisible labour and land required to supply fast fashion demand.

This present-day clothing colonialism is at the heart of ‘Return to Sender’, a gargantuan installation where second-hand garment bales, typical of those dumped in Ghana, are the sobering backdrop to a film on the trade. Created by Nairobi’s Nest Collective, it highlights the nightmarish irony of the Global North forcing its surplus on West African communities, and in the process destroying the environment and suppressing the local textile economy.

Return to Sender, The Nest Collective, 2022–2023. Photo credit – Sparmatseto

In Blackburn Cathedral’s crypt, keepsakes loaned by members of the public are installed alongside their personal stories to challenge today’s throwaway culture and celebrate the beauty of caring for meaningful items.

At The Whitaker in Rossendale, a major exhibition brings together work by contemporary South Asian artists from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and the USA to explore our impact on the environment, our relationship to textiles and the fragments we leave behind.

Finally, Christine Borland’s new commission for BTB at Pendle Heritage Centre presents four films cast onto a projection cloth of fustian, a mix of linen warp and cotton weft, woven into the fabric of this medieval cruck barn. Developed through the artist’s intimate engagement with the growing, spinning and weaving of plant fibres, the films reflect on the lives of women in transition from hand working, through mechanisation and industrialisation into the digital age.

British Textile Biennial at Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery, Blackburn 29 September — 29 October 2023 Entrance is free

Where to go near British Textile Biennial 2023 at Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery and other venues

Blackburn
Music venue
The Exchange, Blackburn

Dating back to 1865 when it opened as one of four exchange halls in the country, The Exchange is an iconic Blackburn venue

Blackburn
King George’s Hall, Blackburn

One of the North West of England’s best known and loved entertainment venues the historic King George’s Hall in Blackburn was built in the classical style from stone quarried at Butler’s Delph in Pleasington.

Haute Dolci
Blackburn
Restaurant
Haute Dolci

This is dessert heaven served in the most amazing surroundings. A beautiful destination for all manner of sweet treats and the added bonus of a click and collect service. Vanilla Milk cake, Mintberry Mojito or test yourself with a Lick Your Lips – Fudge Brownies, Belgian Milk Chocolate, with Milk Chocolate Curls and Strawberries.

Exchange Coffee
Blackburn
Café or Coffee Shop
Exchange Coffee

Serving award winning coffees and a great choice of loose teas, cold drinks and takeaway delights including toasted fruit teacakes, crumpets and toast all of which you can order online through its click and collect service.

Lancashire
Restaurant
Scholars Restaurant

This quality bistro offers fine dining at fabulous prices. One of the leading training restaurants, Scholars Restaurant is run by both industry professionals and fantastic Blackburn College students.

Remix Casuals
Blackburn
Shop
Remix Casuals

A long term favourite for skate brands and streetwear with a mini skate ramp in the basement.

Blackburn
Event venue
The Bureau Centre for the Arts

The Bureau is an artist led arts and community centre, providing a versatile and inclusive space for theatre, music, cultural events and community participation.

Thira
Blackburn
Restaurant
Thira

Blackburn is synonymous with a great curry and Thira offers exactly that. With a discount available for click and collect, you can call and pre-order from a wide menu of home dining options. Starters include Grilled King Fish , boneless diced lamb sauteed with crushed ginger and shallots or a deep dish of mussels marinated with Kerala spices and deep fried.

Blackburn
Shop
Me To A Tee

Two young Blackburners set up this shop selling vintage and sought after football casual brands, such as Iceberg, Moncler, Stone Island CP and Company.

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