Threads That Bind Us

This display consists of a collection of four costumes which explore the past, present and future through the eyes of Manchester’s diverse population, and its roots in colonialism through the cotton trade and fashion industries. Gathering inspiration from the heritage found in our cultural clothing and our hopes for the future as a gathered people, the costumes take us on a journey through the negative effects of colonialism, coming together as a diverse people from all over the world, growing, learning and launching into a colourful new future as a unified people.

This display (pictured below) was created by a group of four artists with the support of artist Ibukun Baldwin.

For Whose Common Wealth? by Chandanpreet Shergill, 2021

For this piece, I used patchwork to symbolise the complex and shifting relationship of an identity that lies between two countries and cultures.  The bright colours, patterns and embellishments celebrate my Indian heritage, and the patches show the friction of the ties between the commonwealth countries and Britain’s colonial past.  It is both looking back to empire and the textile industry of Manchester, as well as forward to a more hopeful and sustainable fashion future.

Pirates of the Colonial Empire, by Brett Dearden, 2021

This shirt style represents colonialism, which from my perspective was just shameful national piracy conducted with a flag and a tailored uniform.  The jewelled belt represents taken resources and the colour reflects the bloodshed caused.  The fabric was a gift from my friend, Ruth Jones, and was produced and purchased in India.

Thriving Flamboyance, by Anuarita Morel, 2021

This coat represents the idea of flourishing from a devastating past.  The main shape seems to be falling apart, however all of its ornaments help to reconnect the piece together in order to create a thriving future.  The golden armour is the strength that emerges from the power of growth and unity.

Celebration! by Mei Yuk Wong, 2021

This flamboyant headpiece celebrates the amazing diversity of our communities and the wider world.  We are different and yet we share the same humanity.  Why should we just be content with one culture when we can enjoy a variety?  We are here to celebrate our diversity and it is for all to enjoy.