International Mother Language Day 2024 – Manchester City of Literature, Threads Exhibition

We are excited to be hosting Manchester City of Literature who have an exhibition available to celebrate International Mother Language Day, showcasing our international connection to the other UNESCO Cities of Literature, while exploring the links of Manchester's cotton-spinning heritage.

By Sarah Jones · February 7, 2024

February 12 2024 – March 23 2024

Threads is a new physical and digital exhibition of multilingual writing and material from UNESCO cities of literature

Local Manchester writers Keisha Thompson and Hafsah Aneela Bashir have contributed new original work to the exhibition.

Manchester and the surrounding towns were long recognised as ‘Cottonopolis’ due to its huge contribution to the cotton industry through manufacture, warehouses and transportation. In this way, textiles and threads are deeply woven through our city’s history.

Cotton-spinning is part of Manchester’s heritage as the world’s first industrial city and as a result is inextricably linked through history to slavery, social reform and protest. Manchester City of Literature are exploring these threads and more through literature, as well as opening the discussion around the world, inviting UNESCO Cities of Literature to look at their own links to textiles and follow these threads as they are interwoven into cultural identities.

The exhibition features creative materials, textiles and writing from Odessa in Ukraine including camouflage nets of the Ukrainian defender created using a technique called “Kikimora”.  Kikimora is also a character in Slavic fairy tales and can be good or evil depending on whom she is dealing with. To these nets creators tie in symbolic lines of poetry, woven hearts and ribbons.

Materials also featured in the exhibition include embroidered artwork from Sísí Ingólfsdóttir, a feminist artist in Reykjavik in Iceland, traditional dress from Granada in Spain, handkerchiefs with Frisian poetry woven through them which were used to wave to ships at a major event in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands. Writing and original artwork from Wroclaw in Poland, Tartu in Estonia and Melbourne in Australia will feature. Plus Exeter, Norwich and Nottingham in the UK, as well as Manchester have contributed to the exhibition.

The exhibition is FREE and is situated in the Manchester Histories Hub on the Lower Ground Floor of Manchester Central Library. Drop in any time during February and March to see these amazing exhibits.