Significant Stitch

This exhibition shows contemporary works by staff and students at Manchester School of Art made in response to the Gawthorpe Textiles Collection. Gawthorpe’s Textile Collection includes 30,000 pieces, collected by Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth (1886-1967). An expert maker herself, she collected everyday specimens of lace, woven textiles and embroidery. They are textiles collected as examples to instruct. In ‘Significance’ they have inspired new work.

Jane McKeating and Caroline Hagan responded to the colourful 19th century embroidered Bandanas. The printed paisley design is obscured by embroidered French knots and feather stitch in shades of yellow, brown, red, blue and purple. Jane’s vibrant printed drawings are similarly overlaid with rich stitchwork whilst Caroline has repeated the paisley pattern in bold florals. Delicate tatting samples have become 3D prints by Mark Beecroft, who says, ‘I was drawn to how the small fragments of lace had been listed and preserved.’ He asks if 3D printed textiles will be an enduring medium? Fragments of patchwork inspired Lynn Setterington’s ‘rePurposed Patchwork ‘ made with footballs and Jessica de Sailles’s brightly coloured cloth of reprinted found fabrics. The 19th century silk Chinese cuffs with their intricately stitched figures were a popular choice. Kelly Quinzel sewed a ‘Monkey and Juggler’ and Lisa Baronona made tiny allegorical works. Nigel Hurlstone says his ‘Darned sample’, ‘encompasses the necessity and capability of cloth to be mended and re-formed’ whilst Rachel Kelly and Kate Egan have respectively animated ‘The Queen Anne inspired embroidery’ and electrified the ‘Ticking Pillowcase’. Finally Alice Kettle’s figure was inspired by Alice Edna Smith’s lyrical thread drawings.

The new works tell new stories. Through linking and unlocking connections the creative potential of this historical resource is revealed as a site for learning and looking.