leek textile week


Running from 23-29 September 2024, Leek Textile Week will comprise a series of community-focused activities, talks and exhibitions that celebrate the town’s rich textile heritage. We will weave threads of the past into the present, spinning new connections with artisans from India and beyond whose knowledge helped transform the local industry. 

150 years ago, William Morris came to Leek to collaborate with Thomas Wardle, who in turn worked with Indian artisans, drawing on their expertise and sharing good practice around wild silk and natural dyes. Elizabeth Wardle set up Leek Embroidery Society, creating work for the leading artists and architects of the day: Walter Crane, Norman Shaw, John Sedding, George Gilbert Scott. Cultural collaboration is the foundation of Leek’s rich textile legacy and it is a living heritage, with older residents still alive who worked in the town’s many mills and dyeworks. Some still work in the textile industry, as designers, printers, makers, dyers.  Leek was also the headquarters for the textile workers union, and we will  celebrate this legacy of activism, as well as exploring what fashion activism looks like today.

Drawing on the legacy of Thomas Wardle and his work with William Morris, our community will grow woad and Japanese indigo, make natural dye vats, and learn how to dye and print with them. We will spin and weave cotton, silk, wool, as well as nettle and flax. We will create a textile map of the town, showing mills and dyeworks, sewing, printing and embroidering worker journeys and homes. Oral histories and archival research will culminate in a walking trail, with projections on buildings, soundscapes, and processions with our community group natural dye flags.  There will be talks, workshops, poetry and more, our activities guided by our Community Steering Committee.

Our strong international focus is supported by Ritu Sethi, League of Artisans’ director in New Delhi, and Sol Marinucci, League of Artisans’ director in Argentina, who will engage artisans with skills related to Leek’s textile heritage as speakers for the five digital events.

The last weekend of Leek Textile Week coincides with Sustainable Fashion Week in the UK, for which Leek will be a regional hub.

More information coming soon! 



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