British Textile Biennial
British Textile Biennial 2023 announced for 29th September – 29th October 2023
British Textile Biennial returns in autumn 2023 with new artist commissions, exhibitions and performances presented against the backdrop of the impressive historic industrial infrastructure in Pennine Lancashire. Using the sites and spaces left by the cotton industry as inspiration, context and venue, we ask, can the making of textiles be a regenerative act?
The industrial revolution transformed the quiet rural backwater of East Lancashire into an engine of textile production at the epicentre of a web that stretched across the globe; commandeering human and environmental resources across continents in a cycle of labour, manufacture and trade which we now know is unsustainable. The Lancashire landscape and its inhabitants are shaped by the industry that grew over two centuries and has now all but disappeared, leaving an indelible mark on both people and places.
BTB23 invites national and international artists to explore more sustainable relationships between the land, the people who live on it and the textiles that come out of it, investigating pre-industrial models with handloom weavers spinning wool from the animals they farm, whether on the moors of Lancashire or the slopes of the Himalayas, or proposing contemporary alternatives from cotton plantations in Benin to recycled garments in Dhaka and growing flax in Blackburn.
As in previous years, BTB23 will present its exhibitions, installations and performances in former mills and other rarely accessible spaces, such as Blackburn’s Cotton Exchange and the Goodshaw Chapel in partnership with English Heritage, bringing added resonance and meaning to the work, alongside a range of events and activities for the public to engage with. In 2021, BTB showed 21 exhibitions with 38 artists, presented in 13 indoor and five outdoor spaces with 65,893 attendances showing an increase from 54,375 visits in 2019.
The full programme of artists and commissions will be announced in May 2023