Blackburn set to be ‘hub’ for new British Textile Biennial

Published Thursday 19 September 2019 at 10:57

The first-ever British Textile Biennial is set to be held across Pennine Lancashire this Autumn and Blackburn will host a packed programme of events.

The festival, with events at Blackburn Cathedral, Blackburn Museum, Church Street and the Cotton Exchange, is expected to attract tens of thousands of visitors to the region and will celebrate the power of textiles through art, design, performance and crowd-sourced exhibitions.

There’s no doubt one of the biggest draws will be an adidas SPEZIAL exhibition showcasing more than 1,000 shoes from the private collection of top Darwen designer, Gary Aspden and fellow collectors.

The event will including gigs, talks and screenings featuring special guests and friends of adidas.

It’ll run alongside other exhibitions, including ‘Live the Dream’ with new works by local artist Jamie Holman celebrating the rave scene across the North.

There’ll also be a large-scale collection of t-shirts – the social media of the 1980s – charting the influence of politics, art and fashion on the most popular item of clothing in the twentieth century.

At the Museum, a new Aaron Dunleavy film ‘Community Clothing’ will also uncover the lives and families of Blackburn’s textile workers.

Councillor Phil Riley, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council’s Executive Member for Growth and Development, said:

Once again our borough is set to be a real hub for culture hosting a fantastic selection of the British Textile Biennal events.

Pennine Lancashire is the perfect place for this festival to be held as textile runs through the very DNA of the whole area.

It’s the first biennial of its kind and it’ll be something different for Blackburn – especially with the huge coup of the adidas SPEZIAL exhibition being hosted here in the magnificent Cotton Exchange.

The festival is being organised by Super Slow Way – a partnership including Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, the Canal and River Trust, Newground, Burnley Council, Pendle Council and Hyndburn Council.

UCLAN is also involved as well as Creative Lancashire and the Arts Partnership Pennine Lancashire.

Its aim is to get more people involved in arts activity, to work with artists in new ways – doing things they’ve never done before by experimenting, exploring and even transforming their environment.

Councillor Riley added:

The biennial is something really unique for the area.

There’ll be everything from a t-shirt collection at the cathedral, the debut of a new film about Community Clothing at the museum alongside Bollywood-inspired contemporary quilts and Blackburn’s Jamie Holman will showcase his new collection of contemporary art celebrating fashion, football Fandom and folklore.

Of course the adidas exhibition will be a huge draw and it’s perfect for the biennial as SPEZIAL designer Gary Aspden optimises everything that the biennial celebrates.

This is a really good chance to showcase our borough to the many visitors we’re expecting from across the UK and worldwide.

As part of the biennial, there’ll also be a wide range of interactive workshops, masterclasses, talks and panel discussions running between October 3 and November 3 with the Bureau Centre for the Arts holding sessions at their new base at the Thwaites Visitor and Training Centre.

View the full details and programme now at:


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