Material Power: Palestinian Embroidery
8 July – 29 October 2023, 11am – 5pm
Material Power: Palestinian Embroidery explored the historical life and contemporary significance of Palestinian embroidery. This ancient and beautiful practice remains an important living tradition and the most prominent cultural material of Palestine today. Curated by Rachel Dedman, the exhibition looked at the ways in which embroidery, primarily undertaken by women, has evolved through a century of turbulent history for the Palestinian people.
This was the first major exhibition of Palestinian embroidery in the UK for over 30 years, with more than 40 dresses and embroidered objects on display lent from important private collections in Jordan and Palestine. Every dress tells a story: whether about the lives of women with their astonishing skills and creativity in the early decades of the last century, or the trauma of displacement as a result of the war of 1948. And reflecting the decades since: in which the vibrant colours and patterns of Palestinian embroidery, now often created for a global market by groups of women, have become symbolic of nationhood, memory, and resistance. Alongside historic dresses were artworks by five contemporary artists, films of embroiderers speaking about their work and rarely seen archive material.
Material Power: Palestinian Embroidery was organised by Kettle’s Yard in collaboration with the Whitworth, The University of Manchester, where it travelled from 24 November 2023 – 7 April 2024.
The exhibition is a living history, encouraging renewed reinterpretations of the craft.
A landmark exhibition.
I really enjoyed my day. I think the exhibition will really help with my GCSE Art sketchbook! I really loved all of the artwork in the embroidery hoops and loved seeing people’s style.
Interview with Rachel Dedman
Find out more about Material Power: Palestinian Embroidery in this filmed interview with curator Rachel Dedman.
Stories about the Exhibition
5 Crafts to Discover in ‘Material Power: Palestinian Embroidery’
In our exhibition Material Power: Palestinian Embroidery, there are lots of different crafts for you to discover. Be inspired by a range of techniques and materials in both historic and contemporary works. Here are 5 to look out for on your visit.
8 Things to Know About Material Power: Palestinian Embroidery
Find out more about embroidery in this latest blog post before your visit to our new exhibition Material Power: Palestinian Embroidery.
2023 Exhibitions at Kettle's Yard
We are delighted to announce our 2023 exhibitions at Kettle’s Yard. Read the blog post to find out more about forthcoming exhibitions.
An Afternoon of Talks and Discussion – Palestinian Embroidery: A Living Tradition
8 July 2023
This event consisted of talks and discussion about Palestinian embroidery and its history and importance today, with the exhibition curator and collectors and experts from the region.
Panel Discussion – Reflections on the Exhibition ‘Material Power: Palestinian Embroidery’
27 September 2023
In this event, exhibition curator Rachel Dedman and artists Aya Haidar and Maeve Brennan discussed themes emerging from Material Power, such as the role of Palestinian embroidery today and the ways in which this traditional practice is expressed in contemporary art.
Lecture by Rachel Dedman – Material Power: Palestinian Embroidery
18 October 2023
Curator of Material Power, Rachel Dedman traces the evolution of embroidered dress in Palestine over the last century: from embroidery’s historical traditions to its politicisation after 1948, its role in resistance and its significance today.
We are grateful to the following for their generous support:
Material Power: Palestinian Embroidery Supporters Circle
Dr Carol Atack and Alex van Someren
John and Jennifer Crompton
Samantha de Reus and Felix Zhang
Tanya Zein and the Jaccaud family
and those who wish to remain anonymous.
The exhibition has been supported by