Since late last year I have been involved in a research residency at Gawthorpe Textile Collection funded through the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation Museum Collections Fund. The collection is based at Gawthorpe Hall near Burnley in Lancashire and I have had the pleasure of working with their curatorial team getting to know the collection and exploring narratives within it.
The Elizabethan hall has been closed for repair and renovation for much of the last year and to mark the reopening of the building a new group exhibition ...by a thread... has just opened. Inspired by the invisible mending techniques used on the stonework of the building ...by a thread... is an open call exhibition exploring visibly mended textiles.
The curator writes, "While the stonework within the Hall was being mended - quite invisibly - we became interested in repair which did the opposite. We started looking for examples of mending which were invisible and actually made a feature of wear and tear. We discovered that with textile items, repair can be storytelling, creative and commemorative. It can add something extra and bring new meaning and emotion to an object. It can tell us more about people, history, memories and lives."
The examples exhibited display thoughtful and careful mending and include Bridget Harvey's blue jumper, Jacy Wall's Japanese boro jacket, David Worsley's darned jeans, Angela Maddock's denim jacket, Coreen Cottam's family quilt, a restored teddy by Karen Suzuki, Jenni Steele's 1930's nurses apron and a pair of Japanese boro bloomers from my own collection. The items are accompanied by a piece of writing by each lender. These words are sometimes tender, sometimes defiant, and are full of the emotional and material connections we make when we take the time to repair something.
...by a thread... is at Gawthorpe Hall until 20th June. A masterclass inspired by the exhibition and by items in the Gawthorpe Textile Collection will take place on Friday 15th July. For further details please visit the website.