Arnolfini launches its summer 2023 programme with Threads

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Arnolfini launches its summer 2023 programme with Threads
Olga de Amaral, Viento 2, 2014. @Olga de Amaral; Courtesy Lisson Gallery. Photography by Theo Christelis.

BRISTOL.- Arnolfini launches its summer 2023 programme with Threads, a major exhibition featuring twenty-one contemporary international artists and makers, for whom textiles is their chosen medium. Celebrating material and making, these artists use the storytelling power of textiles to connect with past traditions, find commonalities between cultures, time and place, and to ‘breathe stories into materials’ .

Recognising the increasing attention drawn to textiles as an artistic medium, Threads encompasses weaving and spinning, rug-making, stitching and embroidery, print, knit, threading, mending and found materials, with materials and techniques handed down, reused and reinvented.

Co-curated by leading textile artist Alice Kettle, Threads weaves throughout Arnolfini’s three floors, to reveal how textiles ‘remember’ , how memory is ‘embedded within the process of making’ , and how new narratives are created.

Just as single threads are twisted into a yarn or woven together to make a cloth, many strands and connections are found between these works. Opportunities for audiences to ‘make’ new stories are also interwoven throughout the exhibition and the engagement programme which includes collaborations with Bristol Weaving Mill.

Reflecting a range of experiences, materials, processes and artistic impulse, exhibiting artists are: Caroline Achaintre, Mounira Al Solh, Ifeoma U. Anyaeji, Olga de Amaral, Will Cruikshank, Monika Žaltauskaitė-Grašienė, Lubaina Himid, Young In Hong, Raisa Kabir, Alice Kettle, Anya Paintsil, Anousha Payne, David Penny, Anna Perach, Celia Pym, Richard McVetis, Ibrahim Mahama, Farwa Moledina, Lucy Orta, Yinka Shonibare and Esna Su.

Within the works artists explore narratives of movement and exchange, environmental concerns, sustainability, labour, trade, migration, post-colonial narratives, identity, gender, politics, community building and place making, reflecting our histories in a current context.

Materials such as Dutch Wax print cloth (Ankara), jute sack and indigo fabric are used for their symbolic associations. Artists harness and exploit texture, pliability, patterns, and colour, to spin and twist and to wind and weave.

Quiet contemplative works evoke the rhythm and intimacy of making, sitting side-by-side with works which use material to break away from accepted forms, challenging established ways of making and embracing new technologies to tell different stories.

Through these acts of making, each artist pushes the mediums’ narrative potential to ‘remember’, asking us to question where, and how, and with what the work has been created. Threads are unravelled as new stories become intertwined, and audiences are invited to engage with their own memories through material and making.

Threads also includes:

• New artist commissions by Birmingham-based Farwa Moledina and Bristol-based South Korean artist Young In Hong.

• A reimagining of the work Ezuhu ezu by Nigerian artist Ifeoma U. Anyaeji during her residency in Bristol as the first recipient of the Arnolfini ACBMT International Artist Residency Award.

• An accompanying exhibition of work showcasing the talents of refugee women who attend Arnolfini’s regular Women’s Craft Club and members of Bristol-based charity Bridges for Communites’ Stitching Together, refugee sewing group, embodying both Arnolfini’s and co-curator Kettle’s own ethos of collaborative practice.

• An opportunity for audiences to engage with Bristol’s own complex textile history through a digital memory map and audio stories focusing upon the sites of the Great Western Cotton Factory and Bristol’s new ‘textile quarter’ – home to Bristol Weaving Mill, Threads collaborative partner and pioneers of a thriving new textile industry in Bristol – creating an additional historical context for the narratives explored in Threads.

• A supporting programme of engagement activities including family workshops from Let’s Make Art, participatory artworks, Celia Pym’s Mending Project, interactive activities from Bristol Weaving Mill, and talks, music, dance, and film, will further bring the building to life with opportunities to ‘make, unmake, and remake connections’, creating a new community of makers and memories. See Arnolfini’s website for further details.

Threads: Breathing stories into materials
July 8th, 2023 - October 1st, 2023

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