Ancoats Brotherhood

Commissioned by Waterside Places, this original textile design was created to mark the first residents moving onto its Islington Wharf Locks, located at the heart of the district on the banks of the Ashton Canal in central Manchester.

The final fabric design is inspired by a collection of programmes held at Chetham’s Library for the Ancoats Brotherhood, an organisation founded in 1878 by Charles Rowley, a local advocate of the arts and passionate socialist, with the aim of bringing art and literature to the working classes.

Also an advocate and guest speaker on the Ancoats Brotherhood programme was designer William Morris, founder of the Arts and crafts Movement which emerged in the late l800s as an anti-industrial statement against the move towards machinery and factory production, which celebrated craftsmanship and the importance of good design. Intricate floral illustrations by Walter Crane, one of the defining artists of the movement, were a common feature in the Ancoats brotherhood programmes.

I consulted with the Landscape and Sustainability Technician at The Whitworth and the Curator at National Museums Liverpool to identify the plants, flowers and fruits featured in the programmes. After creating a body of work featuring gel prints and screen prints from these actual plants taken from the Whitworth’s garden, I chose jasmine to create an element of original artwork for the final design.

I also collaborated with sound artist, Vicky Clarke to use video synthesis to explore the visualisation of the spoken word. My vocals were captured and transformed into images using generative coding as I recited the poem “Aphorisms of Nature” by German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, which featured in one of the Ancoats Brotherhood programmes.

Using Ableton Live software, images were created in response to changes in frequency and timbre and the resulting circular and geometric shapes were hand screen printed then digitised into the fabric design.

More than 50 metres of cotton fabric was digitally printed with the new design hand made into welcome tote bags which were given to residents to welcome them to their new home.