Ancoats Brotherhood / Heritage Textile Commission

Commissioned by Waterside Places, this unique textile design was crafted to commemorate the arrival of Islington Wharf Locks, a new development situated at the heart of the district along the banks of the Ashton Canal in central Manchester.

Drawing inspiration from the rich heritage of the Ancoats Brotherhood, an organisation established in 1878 by Charles Rowley, a local advocate of the arts and committed socialist, the final fabric design pays homage to the movement’s mission of democratising access to art and literature among the working classes. Notable figures such as William Morris, a proponent of the Arts and Crafts Movement, and Walter Crane, renowned for his intricate floral illustrations, contributed to the cultural landscape embraced by the Brotherhood.

Collaborating with experts from The Whitworth and National Museums Liverpool, I identified the botanical motifs featured in the Brotherhood’s programs. Creating gel prints and screen prints using these plants and flowers sourced from The Whitworth’s garden, I incorporated jasmine as a centrepiece for original artwork within the final design.

In collaboration with sound artist Vicky Clarke, I explored sound and visuals through video synthesis. Reciting “Aphorisms of Nature” by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, a poem featured in an Ancoats Brotherhood program, my vocals were transformed into imagery using generative coding via Ableton Live software. These visually captivating shapes, responsive to changes in frequency and timbre, were hand-screened onto fabric before being digitised into the fabric design.

Over 50 metres of cotton fabric were digitally printed with the design, skilfully crafted into bespoke tote bags. These bags, infused with the spirit of community heritage, served as warm tokens of welcome to the new residents, symbolising their entry into a vibrant and culturally rich neighbourhood.