‘Stroke of luck’ for art lovers as award-winning National Festival of Making returns to Blackburn!

Published 02nd Jul 2024

Nationally renowned artists are set to unveil their specially commissioned works at the Festival of Making this weekend and you can see them all for free!

Every year, tens of thousands of people head to Blackburn town centre for the award-winning event with its packed programme promising ‘something for everyone’ with more than 70 things to see and do.

And it’s a haven for art lovers with the many exhibitions and art installations being a huge draw alongside the workshops, talks, live performances and more.

Topping the ‘must-do’ list for any visitor has to be a visit to see the many contemporary artworks created as part of the festival’s super successful Art in Manufacturing programme.

It links nationally renowned artists with leading businesses from right across the area, with the finished pieces being unveiled for the first time at the festival.

This year, you can look forward to:

  • A new installation by emerging artist, Nehal Aamir. Drawing on the people and processes of Darwen Terracotta and Faience and inspired by the collection at Blackburn Museum and Art Gallerywhere the work will be displayed – which marks its 150th anniversary this year.
  • British textile artist and designer of woven textiles Margo Selby is creating her newest site-specific artwork with Standfast & Barracks; a large fabric sculpture that can be seen at Blackburn Cathedral. This work is co-commissioned by the British Textile Biennial.
  • The first ever solo show by learning disabled artist, Horace Lindezey. Delivered with Venture Arts at The Making Rooms, Lindezey’s fascination with the ceremonies surrounding births, marriages and deaths is explored in a multi-disciplinary installation.
  • A factory ‘fun house’ from artist Sam Williams who specialises in playful sculpture. The large-scale installation is inspired by the wonder, culture and physical environment Williams has enjoyed while in residency at The Cardboard Box Company. You can see this at The Cotton Exchange.

Blackburn-based Uncultured Creatives and Rough Trade Books are also collaborating for an anniversary event to commemorate the UK Miners strikes of 1984-85 through two publications.

The event will see the launch of designer Craig Oldham’s new publication ‘In Loving Memory of Work’, with readings from Kevin Dicks, author of ‘The Miners Strike Back.’ This will be followed by in-conversations and Q&A’s with the authors and artist Jamie Holman.

And if all this wasn’t enough – and it is just the start – then The Black Artisans is not to be missed too.

This is a body of photography work that showcases and celebrates established UK based Black Artisans. The project, initiated by photographer Jo Sealy, aims to enlighten and inspire, as well as make visible the work of Black makers.

Elena Jackson, Co-Director of the National Festival of Making, said:

We are excited to showcase the work of leading UK creative talents, alongside emerging and next generation artists, in Blackburn’s annual celebration of making, and we’re looking forward to welcoming visitors from across the area and the UK.

We want Blackburn to be seen far and wide as the natural home of making, both in the past and looking to the future, and with so much creative talent right here, it’s a privilege to be able to platform that through the festival programme.

Elena added:

Welcoming tens of thousands of visitors each year, the annual festival is a celebration of making and manufacturing in all its forms, from the kitchen table to the factory floor.

Bringing together new commissions from nationally renowned artists and makers with a packed programme of free talks, workshops, events and live performances for the whole family, the festival is inspired by the creativity and culture that Blackburn has pioneered and produced for hundreds of years.

Amongst the many things to see and do, there’ll also be a new architectural ‘Welcome Arch’, a collaborative tapestry table developed with the Stitch-School with visitors invited to add to an ever-growing communal piece and also an interactive ‘Fold Your Town’ workshop to create a model village version of Blackburn.

You can view the full festival programme now at: www.festivalofmaking.co.uk

There’s a downloadable version with maps and handy guides on the website too.

You can also follow the festival on Facebook, Insta and X for daily updates.

Blackburn BID will also be sharing useful guides on what else there is to enjoy when you visit on its Facebook and Insta – give them a follow now.

The National Festival of Making is supported by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Arts Council England and the Brian Mercer Trust.

It also benefits from funding from the UK Government, including through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.

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