Image: Wall hanging detail, Tapestry in silk, 19 Century. Made in China. ©The Whitworth, The University of Manchester.
It’s your last chance to see the Tapestries exhibition at the Whitworth art gallery in Manchester, which ends on Sunday 23 February. A tapestry is a coming together of people or things, usually thread, to make an intricate whole. This exhibition shows the breadth of the textiles at the Whitworth that are made with this method of weaving.
Morris and Co., Grayson Perry, Marta Rogoyska and Eduardo Paolozzi hangings sit alongside thick kelims from Central Asia, fine silk kesi from China and early fragments from Peru and Egypt: the first known civilisations to have made tapestries. Sacrifice and celebration, hunting and the hunted, female ideologies and class, politics and taste are threaded through the many versions of this global technique.
Image: One of The Vanity of Small Differences, a series of six tapestries made by Grayson Perry while filming the documentary All in the Best Possible Taste.
A large mural in this space, commissioned by the Whitworth from Ibukun Baldwin, tells us a little about how tapestries are made. Baldwin is a multidisciplinary artist and founder of ethical fashion and textiles company Bukky Baldwin, situated in the Whitworth workshop. The company offers training and opportunities to marginalised communities, gathering people to make things together at the Whitworth. Each product is designed with a hand-made element that is simple enough for someone without experience to be trained to make but also with scope to develop and be creative with it.
Image: Eduardo Paolozzi, The Whitworth Tapestry, 1967 © Trustees of the Paolozzi Foundation, licensed by DACS.
So far, the brand has been collaborating with refugee charity Manchester City of Sanctuary to provide individually catered training programmes that are not only practical but holistic in nature, promoting a rounded wellbeing of the individual. The individuals are given a safe studio atmosphere to work in, generous provisions and kind faces around them. The brand runs weekly creative training programmes for refugees and asylum seekers at the Whitworth, producing the products that when sold fund the training programme.
Find out more information about Tapestries at www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk