National Festival of Making ‘Art in Manufacturing’ commissions revealed

Published Friday 19 May 2023 at 13:57

Top artists are set to work with three of Blackburn with Darwen’s leading businesses as part of the National Festival of Making’s ‘Art in Manufacturing’ programme.

Back for 2023, the impressive scheme will this year see the talented artists collaborate with five different local manufacturers, including Blackburn with Darwen based:

  • Cookson & Clegg – part of Patrick Grant’s Community Clothing offer based in Shadsworth
  • Herbert Parkinson Ltd – a Darwen textile company which is this year celebrating 70 years as a proud John Lewis Partner
  • Blackburn-based The Cardboard Box Company – which has been a loyal Festival partner since its inception in 2017

Now in its fifth year, ‘Art in Manufacturing’ places artists in residence with some of the UK’s leading manufacturers as part of the National Festival of Making.

It was conceived as a unique platform for artists to develop their practice and an opportunity to create a meaningful dialogue between artists and the industrial workforce – with the scheme exploring the social and cultural fabric of place.

The result is contemporary artworks which will form a central part of the packed Festival programme – which the popular event running across Blackburn town centre over the weekend of July 8th and 9th.

Elena Jackson, Curator of the Art in Manufacturing Programme and Co-Director of the National Festival of Making, said:

We’re incredibly proud to have welcomed each of the artists and manufacturers to this year’s National Festival of Making programme, our first as an Arts Council England National Portfolio Organisation.

Partnerships with our manufacturing stakeholders are integral to the unique nature of these artist residencies; 2023 sees a third residency with the exceptional design team at the Cardboard Box Company; a new relationship with Herbert Parkinson, a worker-owned John Lewis factory that celebrates its 70th Anniversary during the Festival of Making week; the return of Cookson & Clegg who are pioneering new ways to work on the production line; technical experts Panaz who are at a pivotal and exciting time for their expanding design portfolio and brand new partner SWS UK based in Lancaster who have welcomed an artist onto their garage door and roller shutter production line for the first time.

2023’s commissioned artists have hugely ambitious practices with individual focus on audience experience, access and imagination.

We can’t wait to see the ideas that have been crafted by artists emerging from these residencies – ideas that will be at the heart of a packed programme of thought-provoking exhibitions, workshops and interventions for our audiences to experience.

Herbert Parkinson – internal

The National Festival of Making is free to attend and is a unique celebration of making and manufacturing – from the kitchen table to the factory floor.

It boasts everything from making workshops to impressive art installations, theatre and musical performances, makers markets, delicious street food, talks, tours and more.

The Festival of Making Community Interest Company (CIC) has grown from strength to strength since its inception in 2017, with the Festival weekend attracting audiences of more than 30,000.

And, in the most recent funding round from Arts Council England, the CIC was awarded National Portfolio Organisation status, recognising its contribution to the cultural regeneration of Blackburn and wider Lancashire, achieving an economic impact of approximately £1m annually and supporting the development of a strong, place-based cultural ecology.

Councillor Phil Riley, Leader of Blackburn Council – a key Festival partner, said:

Blackburn with Darwen is a real hot bed of culture and creativity.

The National Festival of Making is a big deal and we’re incredibly proud to host it here in our borough and play an integral part as strategic partner too.

The Festival celebrates the unique making heritage of our borough, creating a distinctive sense of place while boosting our town’s tourism profile and supporting local businesses – it’s fantastic!

The Festival is supported by Arts Council England, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Brian Mercer Trust and Foundations and Partners.

This project is also part-funded by the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

Read more about the artist and factory residences on the National Festival of Making website by clicking here.

Look out for more details about the full Festival programme in the coming weeks.

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