Weaving the Future is a stunning new exhibition commissioned by the 2019 Saltaire Festival. It combines photography, film and performance to explore how the innovative spirit that once powered the textile industry is alive and well, as textile technologies are transformed for the 21st century. It will be staged at the iconic Salts Mill as the flagship arts event of the annual festival, now in its 17th year.
Weaving the Future showcases the skills of people who work with wool, cotton and other fibres, adapting traditional methods and machinery to make distinctive goods for global markets. Textiles also provide a unique knowledge base for cutting edge research, as traditional technologies are used in new and surprising ways to develop a huge variety of pioneering materials, from vehicle parts to heart valves.
The state of the art display combines the photography of Tim Smith, printed on the latest generation of woven textiles, with film he has produced alongside Chris Squire. Projected onto layered fabrics this film features the Balbir Singh and Gradient Dance Companies performing movements inspired by textile workers and machinery, interwoven with footage of textile processes and a sound track of industrial recordings mixed with music made in response to the rhythms of textile machinery.
Weaving the Future also explores the pioneering role of textiles in the birth of digital technologies. Patterns of holes punched in pattern cards enabled looms to weave an infinite range of patterns from coloured threads. The invention of this binary system led to the development of early computers: the first step on a journey from woven cloth to the digital programming that drives our modern world.
The exhibition will be held at Salts Mill, in its astonishing Roof Space, at one time the longest room in the world. It will be open every day of the Festival, September 13th – 22nd inclusive, 11.00am till 4.00pm. It then remains open at weekends until the 20th October.
Weaving the Future is supported by the National Lottery through Arts Council England, and by Salts Mill, the Saltaire Festival, Kala Sangam and The Campaign for Wool.
The exhibition also includes a range items produced by Knit:Design:Research, an experimental design studio directed by Jane Scott and Elizabeth Gaston of the University of Leeds, which show how knitting can be used for a huge variety of uses.