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Lisburn gallery launches largest international linen festival in Northern Ireland

Wednesday 11th July 2018 at 2pm 0 Comments Visual Arts

Pictured are Professor Jane McCann, Suzanne Lyle, Arts Council Northern Ireland and Founders of R-Space Gallery and Linen Biennale, Anthea McWilliams and Robert Martin, launching the inaugural Linen Biennale. Image: Pictured are Professor Jane McCann, Suzanne Lyle, Arts Council Northern Ireland and Founders of R-Space Gallery and Linen Biennale, Anthea McWilliams and Robert Martin, launching the inaugural Linen Biennale.

The inaugural Linen Biennale & Conference will stimulate new thinking about Ireland’s oldest textile attracting visitors and conference delegates from across the globe.

Friday 6 July saw the launch of Northern Ireland’s largest and most ambitious promotion of linen with the announcement of the inaugural Linen Biennale, a three-month festival celebrating the past, present and future of this versatile cloth starting on 1st August – 31st October and culminating with a two-day international conference on 3rd and 4th October 2018 in the Island Centre Lisburn.

The brainchild of Robert Martin and Anthea McWilliams of R Space Gallery in Lisburn, the programme of over 100 events supported by Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Arts Council of Northern Ireland, British Council NI and Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council, will see the whole of Northern Ireland come alive with an exciting array of exhibitions, workshops, tours and talks based around the 2018 themes of Recall, Rethink and Reform.  The Chairman, Alan Clarke and the board of Trustees for R-Space are delighted to support this ambitious project.

Robert Martin, R-Space Gallery explains,

“Whilst our linen heritage is already well-documented, we wanted to create a festival that would explore its rich and colourful history whist demonstrating that linen is very much alive and well in Northern Ireland.  The Linen Biennale celebrates new approaches to linen as a communicator of messages -messages about tradition, longevity, sustainability, creativity, identity, documentation, feelings, industrialisation, production, process and design."

Sheila McClelland, Committee member of HLF Northern Ireland, said:

“Linen is an integral part of our heritage in Northern Ireland and it is thanks to National Lottery players we can support fantastic projects such as the Linen Biennale.  These events are a welcome addition to the interactive initiatives that so effectively promote and celebrate the rich array of our history and the impact it has had both locally and on a worldwide stage.”     

Suzanne Lyle, Head of Visual Arts, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented,

“The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is proud to support the inaugural Linen Biennale which celebrates the past, present and future role of this important textile through an impeccably curated  programme featuring local and international artists.  With something to suit all tastes and interests, I would encourage everyone to get involved.” 

Colette Norwood, Arts Manager, at the British Council in Northern Ireland

“We are delighted that the International Conference will welcome speakers from around the world who represent some of the leading minds in contemporary textiles, industry and creative design.  The Linen Biennale importantly brings their work and contributions together with Northern Ireland’s foremost artists, educators, scientists and design leaders stimulating new thinking about Northern Ireland’s oldest textile – a wonderful celebration to Recall, Rethink and Reform”.

Alderman Paul Porter, Chairman of the Leisure and Community Development Committee at Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council said:

“We are delighted to be able to support such an innovative and creative initiative. “Linen production was one of the pivotal industries in the development of Northern Ireland’s economy and still plays an important role especially in the international promotion of tourism to our region. The Linen Biennale is the perfect platform through which we can celebrate one of the great successes of both our history and our future.”  

The Linen Biennale Conference in October will play host to 200 international delegates from a diverse range of interests and specialisms including textiles, art, design, fashion, academia, technology.


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