Material Memory

Nothing holds memories better than fabric. Passed down through generations for commemoration or passed on for safe care in dangerous times, it is mobile, mendable and holds memories within its threads.

Material Memory was a display of textile items exhibited in Blackburn Cathedral Crypt as part of British Textile Biennial 2023. Items in the exhibition ranged from football shirts to wedding dresses, loaned by members of the public, alongside the stories they tell. Made precious by the care taken to keep them safe, the value placed on them by those who have prolonged their life and the deep connections they have created, sometimes across centuries and continents.

Challenging the throw away culture of our time, this exhibition demonstrated the deeply human desire to hold the simplest things dear.

Below you can see each individual item from the exhibition, their origins, stories and detailed photographs.

This project was co-commissioned with The Super Slow Way, curated and produced by Emily Tonge and Zara Saghir.

All individual item photography by Jack Bolton.

A short film about this exhibition can be viewed here.

Photo by Matthew Savage

Year: 1975

Origin: Rampur, Pakistan

Donated By: Rosina Rashid

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

Year: 2015

Origin: Bolton, England

Donated By: Damien Wilton

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

Year: 1940s

Origin: Egypt

Donated By: Joanne Pollitt-Wright and Alan Pollitt

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

This item also has an audio story which you can listen to here.

Year: 1954

Origin: Malaysia

Donated By: Becky Dodman Wainwright

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

This item also has an audio story which you can listen to here.

Year: 1960s/1970s

Origin: Plymouth

Donated By: Sara Gilbert

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

This item also has an audio story which you can listen to here.

Year: 1796

Origin: Lancashire

Donated By: Phil Rose

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

Year: 2022

Origin: Blackburn

Donated By: Alan True

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

Year: 2023

Origin: Preston

Donated By: Liz Bibby

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

Year: 1950s

Origin: Lancaster

Donated By: Lucy McElroy

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

Year: 1960s

Origin: Pakistan

Donated By: Bushra Rashid

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

Year: 1935-2021

Donated By: Lore Weschke Boyd

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

Year: 1960s

Origin: North London

Donated By: Amber Butchart

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

This item also has an audio story which you can listen to here.

Year: 1980s

Origin: Paris

Donated By: Lida Hujić

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

Year: 2013

Origin: Bhuj, Gujarat

Donated By: Sonia Vora

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

Year: 2008

Origin: Scarborough

Donated By: Carol Eves

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

Year: 1997/1978

Origin: Scotland

Donated By: Jolene Crawford

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

Year: 1980s

Origin: Belfast

Donated By: Joanna Harriott

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

This item also has an audio story which you can listen to here.

Year: 1980s

Origin: Norfolk, East Anglia

Donated By: Sophie Giller

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

Year: 1990s

Origin: Manchester

Donated By: Lee Richard Walsh

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

Year: 1962

Origin: Nelson, Lancashire

Donated By: Janet Pritchard

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

Year: 1990s

Origin: Preston, Lancashire

Donated By: Kim Graham

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

Year: 1980s-2023

Origin: Blackburn

Donated By: The Robinson Family

To see this collection’s story and more images click the collection link.

These items also have an audio story which you can listen to here.

Year: 1910s

Origin: France

Donated By: Caroline Broadhead

To see this collection’s story and more images click the collection link.

Year: 2022

Origin: Lancashire

Donated By: Caroline Eccles

To see this collection’s story and more images click the collection link.

Year: 1980s

Origin: Blackburn

Donated By: Janet Ross

To see this collection’s story and more images click the collection link.

Year: Unknown

Origin: Northern France

Donated By: Wendy Davison

To see this collection’s story and more images click the collection link.

Year: 1930s/1940s

Origin: Lancashire

Donated By: Sophie Lamin

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

This item also has an audio story which you can listen to here.

Year: 1897

Origin: Lancashire

Donated By: Joy McCarthy

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

Year: 1941

Origin: Russia

Donated By: Lara Borisovna Smith

To see this collection’s story and more images click the collection link.

These items also have an audio story which you can listen to here.

Year: 1937

Origin: Germany

Donated By: Lara Borisovna Smith

To see this collection’s story and more images click the collection link.

This item also has an audio story which you can listen to here.

Year: 1933

Origin: Liverpool

Donated By: Joanne Hoole

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

Year: 1940s

Origin: Lancashire

Donated By: Pat Fleming

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

These items also have an audio story which you can listen to here.

Year: 1930s

Origin: Edinburgh, Scotland

Donated By: Heather Fiona Martin

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

This item also has an audio story which you can listen to here.

Year: 2023

Origin: Lancashire

Donated By: Aamina Desai

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

Year: 1992

Origin: Chakswari, Pakistan

Donated By: Zara Saghir

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

Donated By: Holly Searle

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

Year: 2007

Origin: Bonwire, Accra

Donated By: Joyce Addai-Davis

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

Year: 1989/90

Origin: Blackburn

Donated By: Mark Tennant

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

Year: 1935-2021

Donated By: Lore Weschke Boyd

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

Year: 1910

Origin: Rotheram, Yorkshire

Donated By: Deborah Brown

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

Year: 1977

Origin: Blackburn, Lancashire

Donated By: Joanne Hoole

To see this item’s story and more images click the collection link.

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