Whitworth Gallery Study Day

OCA held a study day at the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester last Saturday where an exhibition called Cotton: Global Threads is on until 13th May.

It can be a lonely time studying by distance so it was a great to meet up with like minded fellow students and with Liz Smith and Pat Hodson two of the OCA Textiles tutors.  After a short get together where we introduced ourselves to each other we started with the first exercise.

We where given a study pack that included this cotton_educators_resource but I put it down somewhere and when I realized and went back it had gone so rather than waste a lot of paper on printing it out again I’ve put the pdf on here.


We had 15 minutes to quickly look around Gallery 1 at the four themes then choose only one of them to base our research on which would take 45 minutes up to lunchtime.

Theme 1: Early global trade in cotton – looked at the central role played by India in the development of cotton.

Theme 2: Revolutions in technology – looked at the demand for cotton and the extent to which this stimulated inventions leading to the Industrial Revolution.

Theme 3: Global cotton – looked at ‘invisible cargoes’ and the extent to which global trading and the exchange of goods leads to the sharing of cultures, ideas, technology and religion

Theme 4: Moral fibre – environmental, ethical and fair trade issues.  There is an exhibition down at Liverpool’s International Slavery Museum called White Gold: the true cost of cotton that focuses on this issue.

I found that there wasn’t really enough time to really concentrate om one Theme in particular although that was what we where supposed to do.  I have to admit I spent a lot of time chatting to tutors and students as I went around but managed to do some work.  We weren’t allowed to take photos in this part of the exhibition which was a shame because there was a beautiful piece of Indigo dyeing that I would have loved a record of.

After lunch

Task 2: ‘Making choices’

We had 15 minutes to quickly look around the rooms containing the exhibits of the 7 contemporary artist who had been chosen to exhibit (scanning) then choose one from each room that we found the most interesting (broad selection) finally narrow down your choice to just one and re-visit ( focused choice leading to critical inquiry.

We had been split into small groups so we met up and went to look at what each of us had chosen.  I was particularly interested in this piece by Liz Rideal Ghost Sari 2001 –

You can listen to an interview she did about her exhibits below where she briefly mentions putting a sari through a press to make the monotype but I am still trying to work out how she did it.

My second choice was by Aboubakar Fofana and luckily another student chose to discuss it.

Evaluation of the day

I enjoyed the day but we only really had just over 3 hours together and that included lunch so I don’t feel that I accomplished a lot.  I realized that the tasks we where given was how I already explored when I went to a gallery.  I like to have a quick look around at what is on show then go back and look in more depth at what interests me.

We where asked to send Liz a short ‘post-visit evaluation responses‘ this is what I wrote

The first part of the day is how I usually work on a gallery visit, walk round and look at everything on display then go back to the pieces that have caught my eye and examine it in more detail. Usually I am by myself so it was great to be with a group, especially with people who were interested in the same subject.

I’ve always been hands on with my creativity, I know what I like and dislike but find it hard to put into words my feelings and reactions to art/textile works so I learnt so much from the day. Being able to interact with other students and see how they were able to put into words how they felt about the works on display was very informative. I’m usually shy until I get to know people and in the past when in a group whenever I’ve tried to add anything to the discussion someone has nearly always spoken over me so I gave up trying but Saturdays group didn’t make me feel like that.


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