Wednesday, 8 July 2009


Textiles accompany us throughout life’s journey;
Wrapped as we enter the world and covered when we leave.

We all have a story of cloth to tell, a christening gown worn by three generations, a wedding dress still wrapped in tissue paper hidden in the attic, an embroidery or silk hankie made by a family friend, or a special piece of cloth wrapped carefully away to be used at your burial. is a culturally diverse community arts and heritage project that creates opportunity for reflection on personal memories associated with the ritual events of birth, marriage and death through the sensory medium of cloth. Creating opportunities for exchange between cultures and generations it aims to increase understanding of one another’s lost or changing heritage.

The project was initiated in 2006 by artist Lesley Sutton; supported by Trafford Council and the Heritage Lottery Fund Lesley worked with photographer Paula Keenan observing and documenting individual and collective stories told by small groups of women from six cultural backgrounds living in South Manchester. Despite their varied backgrounds the women held in common the celebration of life from birth to grave and the use of textiles during these festivities. The result was an exhibition of documentary photography, video and art work created collaboratively between the two artists.

The project aims to continue by collecting stories of cloth from all over the globe. Aferdita, a refugee from Kosovo tells us that textiles play a very important role for women from her country; she began to make her dowry at the age of twelve. Mildred remembers finding her dream wedding dress while out shopping with her mother in Oldham Street, Manchester; it cost fifteen guineas and was made of silk brocade.

Join us by sharing your stories of cloth. Explore some of the stories already in our collection or view some of the artefacts and art work in our ‘Online Exhibits’ page. Help us to make this project successful by asking friends and family from all over the world to share their stories.

Lesley Sutton; Project co-ordinator

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