Mixed messages

Hi I’m Mitzi, currently researching two items that will go on display in July.

One is Judith Duffey’s Sheep in Wolf’s Clothing – a contemporary knitted piece linked to questions of home/safety, gender and textile-art. There is so much relevant material – Just the other day my friend mentioned to me about their ‘yarn bombing’ – knitting graffiti – activities on the streets of Manchester and Salford – unfortunately I don’t think I’ll fit it in to the Fact Files!

The second piece I’m researching is an Ibo Masquerade costume from the 19th Century. Although I am a Social Anthropology graduate this is proving to be the most difficult piece to contextualise! There is so much that anthropology can say about masquerade costumes but anthropologists have to be careful not to place an object in a generic, over-romanticised, timeless realm of ‘Africa’ or ignore the very real possibility this object may have been a prestige item given by tribesmen or confiscated by government officials as a symbol of colonial power. Its hard but I’m getting there!

Contemporary masquerade from http://www.skidmorescope.edu

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Men of Cloth

Just arrived in the post

Men of Cloth, an exhibition of stitched textiles by Michael Brennand-Wood, Gavin Fry, Matthew Harris, James Hunting, Colin Jenkins and Kazuhito Takadoi, will be at the Waterside Arts Centre, 3 July to 4 September 2010.  Work by a few artists who are also represented in the Whitworth’s collection will be on display.

Matthew Harris, "Lantern Cloth No III", The Whitworth Art Gallery, T.2009.13

All of us who work with textiles here will be heading over to Sale to have a look at the contemporary stitched work.

The exhibition is curated by Jenny Waterson, a textile designer and curator who has been helping out in the textile department at the Whitworth for the last few months.  We won’t see her for a few weeks while she works hard to get her exhibition ready.  Good luck Jenny!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


The TACTILE handling resource in use


Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Noses in books

At the end of July three of the cases in the Textile Gallery will contain a new selection of objects from our collection.  The items were chosen last year to allow us plenty of time to get them ready for display.  A big part of this is research.

Our textiles books

At the moment I am working with three volunteers to prepare what we call ‘Fact Files’.  These folders provide extra information for people who want to know more about what they’ve seen.  We have been leafing through stacks of books trying to find nice images, articles and other things that will add something extra to the displays.  Here is a little taster of the kind of thing we look for (though he doesn’t look too happy about being dressed up).  More to come in later posts…

Rabari groom carrying a coconut

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Wardle comes down but his patterns can still be seen…

The textile exhibition The Manchester Indian: Thomas Wardle and India has come down this week.  The wonderful selection of textiles collected by Wardle in India, or dyed and printed by his company in Leek, are coming off their display stands and going back into storage.

Wardle fans can still look through over 1700 pages of his pattern books on the Whitworth website: http://www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk/collection/recentprojects/wardle/  You’ll also find essays about Thomas Wardle and the design, making and use of printed textiles in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Body Browser

Pair of mittens, netted silk, English, 1830-50 (T.2002.27)

I’m the Assistant Curator who works with textiles at the Whitworth. I recently picked some things from our collection to go on display in one of the drawer units in the Textile Gallery. We have thousands of textiles in the collection so these ‘browsers’ are a great opportunity to show lots of objects on a particular theme. However, this creates as much work for our Conservator as preparing a much bigger display.

I chose things which were originally made to cover, protect or decorate the body: masks, gloves, socks, bodices and underwear from a wide variety of cultures and times. I thought it would be fun for visitors to feel like they were rooting through somebody’s drawers. The choices needed to be small (so they can fit in) and sturdy enough  to withstand the drawers being pulled open and shut. Because I chose so many 3D items our Textile Conservator and Conservation Technician are now busily creating beautiful supports for every single item (which they can stay on when they come off display).

Look out for these mittens (and the smock pictured at the top of this blog) which will appear in the browser in the next few weeks.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Welcome to Textiles – Whitworth

On this blog you will find glimpses of how we work and the textile treasures we look after at the Whitworth Art Gallery.  Visit us for regular posts about…

  • Who we are and what we do – from Curators to Conservators
  • Favourite objects of the people working on the nearly 20 000 textiles in the collection
  • What we are working on now
  • How we prepare for our regular rotation of displays in the Textile Gallery
  • The latest additions to our collection
  • New discoveries and ideas about our textiles
  • Textiles events and activities in our Gallery

We would also like to know what your thoughts are so please add to this blog as it progresses.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment