NARRATIVES: Threads and Testimony at Manchester Jewish Museum

Maja Lorkowska, Exhibitions Editor
Photograph by Chris Payne

NARRATIVES: Threads and Testimony at Manchester Jewish Museum, Cheetham Hill 7 April — 9 May 2023 Tickets from £4.00 — Book now

The Manchester Jewish Museum presents NARRATIVES: Threads and Testimony, a new exhibition from artists Sarah Lee and Laura Nathan.

Textiles have incredible narrative potential. Soft materials which are naturally close to our skin seem to absorb and carry our smell, sweat and experiences; while thread is perhaps more stable than a pencil line on paper, so is recording memories on quilts and linens. This was the starting point for Lee and Nathan, two textile artists who attempt to reconcile generational traumas and family history through textile works.

NARRATIVES: Threads and Testimony combines textile, installation and sound pieces to explore the artists’ family history surrounding the Holocaust. During NARRATIVES, their collaborative six-month residency, both Lee and Nathan discovered that they have a shared family history of the Holocaust and Jewish heritage which resulted in a new body of work, culminating in the final exhibit.

Sarah Lee
Sarah Lee

Laura Nathan’s work often uses historical documents and family history as leading subject matter for the work, and even materials like fabrics passed down from previous generations. The symbolism of materials is purposeful and significant in her oeuvre. She often uses embroidery but as well as celebrating the handmade, Nathan often uses her work to promote well-being and encourage community engagement. At the exhibition, you’ll find a sound-based installation and textiles, the creation of which was aided by a large collection of family documents.

Sarah Lee’s work focuses on animals, architecture, history and literature, often realised in sketchbooks and textiles, on the go while travelling. For NARRATIVES: Threads and Testimony she took inspiration from the museum’s stained-glass windows and architectural elements to create hand-embroidered pieces, led by her grandfather’s woodcarvings as a way of processing his wartime experiences.

The final show is a satisfying display of excellent handcraft resulting from the focus and hours which have gone into each piece.

NARRATIVES: Threads and Testimony at Manchester Jewish Museum, Cheetham Hill 7 April — 9 May 2023 Tickets from £4.00 Book now

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