Celebrating collaboration: Blackburn’s National Festival of Making

Four new commissions have come through the festival's Art in Manufacturing programme, positioning Lancashire as a hub of creativity and craft.

This year's National Festival of Making in Blackburn, Lancashire, will host four new commissions for which artists have paired with industrial sector factories to reinforce Lancashire as a centre for making in the UK.

The Art in Manufacturing residencies began in 2016 and take place between November and July. Since the programme's inception, 31 artists have been commissioned to work with 24 artisan makers and manufacturers.

Each year, these diverse projects are revealed at the festival, celebrating both emerging and established talent.

National Festival of Making co-director and curator of the Art in Manufacturing programme, Elena Jackson, speaks highly about the standards of the artists' proposals. She says: "We know that being able to work in and with the expert teams in each factory is a unique and valuable opportunity for artists, offering them more than just a chance to create new work.

"By collaborating with a highly skilled manufacturing workforce, there is a mutual sharing of talents, experience, and knowledge that results in exciting installations only possible because of these inspirational partnerships that span art and industry."

Stories of rituals

Taking influence from her experiences as a Muslim woman, emerging Manchester-based artist and designer Nehal Aamir has created intricate, hand-painted tiles while in residence with architectural ceramic experts Darwen Terracotta and Faience. This is the industry leader's third time hosting a residency.

Aamir specialises in the storytelling of rituals and realities of contemporary life and favours craft and traditional techniques in her practice of ceramics. During her residency, she has benefitted from the Darwen Terracotta team's expertise in designing and manufacturing architectural terracotta, faience and sculpture. The finished work will be exhibited at Blackburn Museum & Art Gallery.

Supporting learning disabled artists

Studio ceramicist and textile artist Horace Lindezey has worked with the visual arts charity Venture Arts, which supports learning-disabled artists, to design and develop new work for his residency with Blackburn's The Making Rooms. Lindezey's work often depicts the world around him, his family, and memories of his childhood growing up in Hulme and Moss Side, Manchester.

Along with the community-led fab lab, The Making Rooms, he has used the programme to explore modern fabrication equipment that combines advanced manufacturing with traditional craft processes, resulting in his first solo exhibition.

Merida Richards and Dom Pillai Music and Video: Falling a Memory of Her

Merida Richards and Dom Pillai Music and Video: Falling a Memory of Her

Celebrating woven artworks

One of the more established names on this year's residency roster is Margo Selby, winner of the 2021 Turner Medal for Britain's Greatest Colourist. Her product ranges are available through national retailers, including John Lewis. Her woven artworks are also collected and exhibited worldwide.

Selby has gone into residency with the textile printing company Standfast & Barracks in Lancaster, renowned for its impressive heritage in the craft. This marks the first year the company has hosted an artistic residency, coinciding with its 100th anniversary celebration. This Art in Manufacturing residency was co-commissioned by the National Festival of Making and British Textile Biennial.

Credit: Carmel King

Credit: Carmel King

Going big

The programme's largest installation will come from artist, public art curator, and producer Sam Williams. She is known for her playful and playable installations. She has been in residency at the state-of-the-art packaging plant, The Cardboard Box Company, in Accrington.

Williams is originally from Tamworth in the West Midlands but is now based in Brighton. During her career so far, she has produced and delivered public artworks across the UK for events and festivals, drawing inspiration from her childhood experience growing up in a local theme park, Drayton Manor, where her family (and later she) worked.

Her installation responds to industrial factory environments and marks The Cardboard Box Company's third Art in Manufacturing residency.

Further Information

The National Festival of Making is free to attend and will feature performances, workshops, talks, exhibitions and markets across Blackburn town centre. The full festival programme is available below.


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