Alice Kettle’s Thread Bearing Witness (2018)

Coursework, Creative Arts 1.1 Experience Creative Arts, Creative Arts BA (Hons), Project 2: Encountering Time - A Critical Analysis, Research & Reflection

Alice Kettle is an internationally acclaimed and respected embroidery artist who has challenged the boundaries of embroidery through her ambition to work to a scale quite immeasurable and in some cases almost beyond belief; Kettle is one of the key voices in the piece of work Thread Bearing Witness (Mitchison, 2018).

Thread Bearing Witness was a major series of large textiles, and other works, shown at the Whitworth, Manchester, that considered cultural heritage, refugee displacement and movement, while engaging with individual migrants and their creativity within the wider context of the global refugee crisis (Whitworth, 2018). It included collaborative works with refugees from Dunkirk, North West & South England made through contribution and co-creation and explore creativity as resilience the intangible cultural heritage skills of refugee women, children and unaccompanied minors. It embraced personal testimonies and textiles roles from the domestic to the spectacular and a chronicle of shared making (Manchester School of Art, 2021).

Thread Bearing Witness mainly covers the topic of migration, which is one of the defining issues of our time. Kettle uses textiles as a powerful medium through which to explore themes of cultural heritage, journeys and displacement. Embroidery is a domestic practice representing home-making, it is steeped in the history of trade routes with its global connections to production and pattern. It has also been used across time to portray world events, for example, the Bayeux Tapestry.


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