The Whitworth Gallery, situated in central Manchester, has various exhibition spaces inside as well as integrated into the park and art garden, sculpture terrace and orchard garden, alongside new spaces that embrace the park. With exhibitions of new work by some of the world’s leading artists alongside watercolours, textiles, wallpapers, photographs and fine art the Whitworth has become one of the city’s most popular galleries. So our group decided that this must-see cultural destination must be our next visit!
Our tour allowed time to explore the tapestries from around the world with many being from Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Yemen, countries that hold a wealth of heritage pertinent to the culture of many of our participants, particularly those having fled the on-going conflict within Syria and Yemen. Exhibitions included drawings, paintings, sculptures, photographs and more from a wide range of local and international artists. A tour guide from the Whiteworth Gallery accompanied our group on our visit and provided a wealth of information and insight to the works on display.
The section of ‘Kiswa’ cloth dating back to 1924, woven in Egypt from satin silk really made an impression on many of our group as it is very important within Islam as it is woven with religious phrases in Arabic and covers the ‘Ka’ba’ in Mecca with sections destricuted accross the world every year.
Our group was fascinated to learn more about the Vistorian tradition of making wall-paper and how British dsigners actually used methods involving dyes, wood-blocks and printing that originated in India, Pakistan and the Middle-East as well as Japan and far-eastern countries. The tour guide explained how methods have evolved over time and now use computer-aided design and modern technologies but often try to recreate and draw upon other cultures and tradition.
There was also an exhibition called ‘Beyond Faith: Muslim Women Artists Today’ showcasing the work of five Muslim women that really made an impression on many of our participants, many of whom were already familiar with the stories and works of the artists but who had never actually seen their work. The exhibition explored themes of identity, culture, ‘otherness’ and belonging and reflected the diverse personal journeys of the artsists and their artistic journies, challenging the stereo-types of Muslim women.