Turner prizewinner Lubaina Himid reveals Lost Threads of textile history at Gawthorpe Hall exhibition

UCLan Professor and internationally renowned artist Lubaina Himid has been busy preparing for an exhibition at Tate Modern which opens in November.

But she was delighted to seize the opportunity to create a new work to exhibit closer to home.

Libiana was commissioned to create an art installation for Lancashire's British Textile Biennial 2021, which is on until the end of the month.

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The Preston based artist, who was awarded the Turner prize in 2017, has created Lost Threads, which is now on show at the Great Barn in Gawthorpe Hall, Padiham.

Professor Lubaina Himid

The work features 400 metres of Dutch wax fabric cascading through the structures of the17th century building. The fabric itself has a complex history, being identified as African, while having its roots in Indonesia and now being made in China.

The Grade I listed Gawthorpe Hall and the Great Barn are owned by the National Trust and the Hall is managed by Lancashire County Council. Lubaina says she hopes her exhibit tempts more people to visit the Hall and barn and its collection, which is a "holy grail" for textile enthusiasts due to its renowned textile collection. She said she also hopes it will make them think in future about: "Sometimes what's missing in collections, what histories are not always revealed."

The Biennial programme describes the history which has informed Lost Threads, noting: "The fabric has been used in part to reflect the movement of oceans and rivers used to transport cotton across the world over centuries. Waterways historically carried raw cotton, spun yarn, and woven textiles from continent to continent, as well as enslaved people from Africa to pick raw cotton in the southern states of America or workers who migrated from South Asia to operate looms here in East Lancashire. "

It details how the fabric's,history, lineage and identity "reflects an historic and continuing flow of labour, trade and money" continuing: "The vibrantly coloured and intricately patterned fabric in the installation dominates West African markets and is now globally recognised as quintessentially “African” although the cloth was originally forged by Dutch colonial companies attempting to mechanically reproduce handmade Javanese batik cloth in Holland.

Lubaina pictured outside the Great Barn. (Photo: Huckleberry Films)

"When this failed to take off in Southeast Asia, Dutch traders began to sell the cloth in West African markets. The patterns were modified to fit local tastes and quickly became popular, ultimately becoming an essential everyday consumer good. However, today the majority of Dutch designs available on African markets are low-cost reproductions made in China."

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,The Biennial continues with a wide range of events and activities throughout October. For details of the programme see here* Lost Threads continues at the Great Barn, Gawthorpe Hall until October 31 and is open Wednesday to Saturday from 12pm to 4.30pm.

Lubaina's exhibition at Tate Modern opens on November 25 and continues until July 3,2022.

* The Lancashire Post is more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription to support our journalism. For unlimited access to Lancashire news and information online, you can subscribe here.

Lubaina pictured by her installation inside the Great Barn (Photo:Huckleberry Films)