Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Around The World In 80 Textiles * ULITA Exhibition * Leeds' Flax Mills' Strange Temples & Towers

This exhibition celebrates the 10th anniversary of ULITA and runs from 30 April - 25 July 2014 and again from 30 September - 28 November 2014 at St. Wilfred’s Chapel and showcases the scope of the archive by presenting costume and textiles from all the countries featured in ULITA’s collections. All the items selected for display have not been exhibited since the opening in 2004 and include a lovely beaded sampler. Highlighted will be the amazing embroiderer Louisa Pesel, whose work was inspired by her extensive travels.
While you are in Leeds do take time out to explore the historic textile centre just south of the city and rail station, by the canal. It is now a thriving area of artistic lofts and super eating places mixed in among the old cobbled courtyards of the former textile mills, so you will be comfortably catered for. Look out for John Marshall's Temple Works built in the Egyptian style between 1836-1840 and boasting that it was the biggest single room space in Europe.
This building is a former flax mill and comprises an office block and factory, the office block based on the temple at Antaeopolis and Temple of Horus at Edfu with a chimney designed in the style of an obelisk.
There are a number of details to make you smile - these asps and their smiley faces can only be appreciated side-on - from the front view they appear to be part of a traditional bead and dart frieze. Oh, yes, and you may also want to know that sheep used to graze on the grass-covered roof. This served the purpose of retaining humidity in the flax mill to prevent the linen thread from becoming dried out and unmanageable
Across the road, take time out to wonder at the chimneys (yes, chimney stacks) at tower works built on the model of Italian towers, one resembling a tower in Bologna.
Even now I, after decades of familiarity, I never cease to wonder at the ingenuity, the reverence for the past and mistaken belief that they were building for centuries to come, of my textile forefathers. But why settle for three Italianate towers, when you can build a fourth? This view below brought a big smile to my face when I got the joke. The new cylindrical building in middle of the picture, with its cunningly staggered windowed storeys recalls the Leaning Tower of Pisa! Lovely Leeds. And if you want to visit the ULITA exhibition, just click here for more details

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