British Textile Biennial dates for 2021 announced

5th October 2020

British Textile Biennial returns in 2021 with new artist commissions, exhibitions and performances

British Textile Biennial 2021 announced as 1 – 31 October 2021

British Textile Biennial returns in 2021 with new artist commissions, exhibitions and performances presented against the backdrop of the impressive infrastructure of the cotton industry in Pennine Lancashire. In 2021, BTB21 turns its attention to the global nature of textiles and the relationships they create, both historically and now, with a major new commission by Turner Prize winner Lubaina Himid and fashion historian Amber Butchart as guest curator.

With an abiding interest in the history of textiles in East African and British contexts, Lubaina Himid will present a major new work responding to the Gawthorpe Textile Collection in Burnley, exploring the histories of industrialisation, female labour, migration and globalisation. The Gawthorpe Textile Collection is one of the most interesting textile collections in the UK, with 30,000+ artefacts, spanning five centuries, covering a broad range of techniques and originating from across the globe, this collection speaks as much about cultural, social and personal histories as it does about textile craft.

Following the huge success of the Biennial’s last crowd sourced exhibition of protest banners, BTB21 will be inviting the public to share textiles that have significance to them to tell stories of movement, migration and making. Responding to the same brief and alongside the public exhibition, fashion historian and writer, Amber Butchart will curate a section with pieces chosen from the Gawthorpe Textile Collection which will also be shown online. As guest curator, Amber is also planning a series of podcasts featuring artists’ interviews and a series of live events for broadcast.

In addition to new commissions from established and emerging artists, BTB develops its explorations with associate artist, Jamie Holman, as well as an ongoing residency with Reetu Sattar.

Jamie Holman continues his investigation, begun in BTB19, on the global narratives woven deep in the working-class histories of Blackburn,in a story of transformation and triumph that creates bonds between the first mill workers and their descendants. Reetu Sattar, an international artist based in Dhaka, develops work in a variety of media that explores the contemporary tensions between traditional cultures in the Bangladeshi diaspora and the forces of modernity through the ever-evolving history of the cotton industry.

As in previous years, BTB21 will present its exhibitions, installations, performances and films in former mills and other rarely accessible spaces, such as Blackburn’s Cotton Exchange, bringing added resonance and meaning to the work, alongside a range of events and activities for the public to engage with.

The full programme will be announced in Spring 2021.