From large scale images adorning public buildings to a celebration of Italian Sportswear – the British Textile Biennial 2021 (BTB21) has 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.

In line with celebrations for the brand’s 50th anniversary, C.P. Company will be presenting a retrospective dedicated to five decades of Italian Sportswear, and Massimo Osti’s lasting legacy.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Turner Prize winner, Lubaina Himid will present Lost Threads, a major new work responding to the Gawthorpe Textile Collection in Burnley, exploring the histories of industrialisation, female labour, migration and globalisation in the Great Barn at Gawthorpe Hall.

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

Over a six-month period, the artists and curators have been in dialogue allowing themselves time to consider all aspects of their individual practices and presentation of their work together.  The resulting exhibition is the ‘mess’ of new cultures that has emerged as a consequence of colonisation, each artist revealing something of the personal in order to better understand, or make sense of the political. 

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

In another former mill owner’s house in Rossendale, The 62 Group of textile artists presents Connected Cloth, an exhibition of contemporary textile art 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 takes the textile archive of Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery as its focus, exploring how textiles, and specifically Khadi, might represent the 'Black' Indian body. 

The work will include a collaboration with award-winning, Blackburn-born award winning film maker, 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 industrialisation of cotton manufacturing and traditional cottage industry is the starting point for James Fox’s new work, Rights, Riots and Routes, that explores the history of protest and punishment via the Lancashire loombreaker riots of 1826. 

Lancashire Telegraph:

Reetu Sattar explores the contemporary tensions between traditional cultures in the Bangladeshi diaspora and the forces of modernity through the ever-evolving history of the cotton industry to be shown in Queen Street Mill, Burnley

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

Raisa Kabir presents work at Queen Street Mill as a continuation 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 fabric sample books assembled in 1866 by John Forbes Watson, Kabir worked at John Spencer Textiles in Burnley to create her own personal woven pattern designs that relate to collective imaginings of place and belonging in East Lancashire.

Lancashire Telegraph:

Emerging artist Azraa Motala is creating a new series of painted portraits in a co-commission with The Harris, Preston. Unapologetic challenges the ongoing narrative of “otherness” and provides a platform for an overlooked community of young British South Asian women from Lancashire, whose painted portraits will be displayed amongst the collection at Blackburn Museum and Art Gallery and reproduced on banners, hung on civic buildings at Blackburn Town Hall, Nelson Library, The Howarth in Accrington and Towneley Hall in Burnley.

To find out more about the British Textile Biennial 2021 click here