A renaissance, as derived from the French: ‘Rebirth’, can occur at any time. We all know of the Italian Renaissance in the 15th Century, when there was a resurgence of interest in classical learning and wisdom after a long period of cultural decline and stagnation. In our latest issue, we take the textiles of the Renaissance and the renaissance of the textile industry in with the same breath. In doing so we see that change often comes from looking to the past.
We examine the symbolism found in Renaissance portraiture, much of which lives on in our shared visual vocabulary. Textiles have long been used as a vehicle for conveying a message and we look at how cloth has been utilised to create banners to good effect in the recent past as well as the more subtle messages communicated discreetly through our clothes.
There are many kinds of renaissance including the one I have witnessed first hand in the UK textile industry after a long period of deindustrialisation following globalisation in post-war Britain. We are now seeing cotton being spun in at Fine English Cottons in Lancashire for the first time in 50 years as well as companies like Laxtons, who had moved their production overseas only to bring it back in order to maintain quality. We know a small number of mills won’t right the wrongs of the textile industry as documented in the work of Alke Schmidt but it is heartening to see that a single business can act as a catalyst for reviving a neglected neighbourhood, equally a group of enlightened individuals can energise a community as in Kala Ghoda.
We also see a personal renaissance in a shift of career after illness for Jeremy Bonner. So whatever prompts your renaissance, enjoy the journey. Take time to recharge over the Christmas break ready for your own renaissance, even if you only darn a neglected sweater to give it new life.
The Renaissance issue is out now.
Blog post by Polly Leonard.