Fabric of the City


Fabric of the City comprises of two linked textile artworks made by Alice Kettle Professor of Textile Arts, Manchester School of Art, in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, Manchester Metropolitan University.

These artworks are a celebration of multi-disciplinary creativity and are inspired by the different schools and centres in the Art and Humanities building and its relationship with the city of Manchester. The poem by Michael Symmons Roberts – Great Northern Diver from the collection In Mancunia – has acted as point of reference. The work visualises the city portrayed by Symmons Roberts as a living poem, representing the vibrant layers of Manchester, its inhabitants, places and multiple histories.

Alice Kettle brought together a group of Undergraduate Textile in Practice and MA Textile alumni students, Ibukun Baldwin, Olivia Barrett, Hannah Jones, Romilly Tucker and Jasmine Walne. They devised a process of exchange and discussion whereby each has contributed to both artworks. The design reflects this co-design which like the city of Manchester itself is made up of multiple voices that make it whole.

The work also reflects the period of pandemic in 2020 and the challenge of co-designing collaboratively and remotely whilst in lockdown with no access to resources. The fabrication of the work by Kettle has required many adaptations and rethinking due to the restrictions of the pandemic. The small collective designs were reworked by Kettle to be printed on cloth on a vast scale, and subsequently were embroidered to give texture and dimension to the surface. Textile print and stitch are disciplines that are key to the history of Manchester and the teaching at the School of Art.

The works demonstrate the cross-disciplinary focus of the creative activities in the Faculty, bringing together poetry, visual and applied arts within this architectural site and highlighting the practices of its professors, students, technical teams and the important place of culture to Manchester.