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Raw Materials: Textiles at Bow Arts

Revealing the stories and inventions of east London’s forgotten textile trade

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Raw Materials: Textiles traces the forgotten industrial history of east London along the River Lea. This year followed the textiles trail, uncovering the stories of silk-weaving, calico printing, jute spinning and the invention of dye colours, remembering the industries that once filled areas including Hackney Wick, Stratford, West Ham and Walthamstow in a city that is fast ironing out the remnants of its trade and manufacturing history.

The exhibition ranges from historic textiles – including William Morris’s River Lea design and a Georgian printed calico from the V&A – to Mahatma Gandhi’s spinning wheel, donated to the East End’s Kingsley Hall after he stayed there during a visit to London in the 1930s. Newly commissioned works from resident artists Sarah Desmarais and Freya Gabie provide a rich contemporary interpretation, including a 50-foot-long coiled rope incorporating a single gold thread, representing the golden fibre of jute.

Raw Materials: Textiles is at Bow Arts Nunnery Gallery 18 April – 24 June.
 

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