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					Past and Present Woven Together for Textile Festival Could Charles Roe, Samuel Greg or Thomas Wardle ever have imagined to what extent their names would remain such familiar ones in the 21st century. Whether it was 100 or 200 years ago, these men quite literally changed the face – not to mention the fortunes - of Macclesfield, Congleton, Bollington, Leek and the surrounding area. Their influence is etched in our townscapes and our countryside and to this day it inspires local business and our creative industries. Born in Macclesfield in 1831, the son of a leading silk dyer, Thomas Wardle was surrounded by textiles from day one. Silk and colour fascinated him throughout his long working life. Leek became the centre of his dyeing business, but his expertise and innovation soon connected him to London, France, Germany, Italy and India. His wife Elizabeth founded the Leek Embroidery Society whose exquisite work is still found in many churches around Leek and Macclesfield. This year Macclesfield, Congleton and Leek mark the centenary of Wardle’s death with a number of exhibitions and events forming part of the area’s first Three Shires Textile Festival which takes place 4-19 July. The festival itself is a natural product of this great textile legacy – a wonderful celebration that weaves our heritage together with the work of today’s textile artists, that promotes the importance of the conservation of this region’s textile treasures and also provides opportunities for everyone to learn a textile skill for themselves. Highlights of the packed festival programme include the exhibition Dye, Print, Stitch: the Textiles of Thomas and Elizabeth Wardle at the Silk Museum; a Grand Auction of textiles held by auctioneer and TV antiques expert Adam Partridge; a day school at Macclesfield Heritage Centre for practitioners and students with leading designers Kaffe Fassett, Diana Springall, Edwina Ehrmann from the V&A and others. The build-up to the festival has already begun, with the opening at Macclesfield Silk Museum of The Embroiderer’s Eye, an exhibition of the very best of contemporary British embroidery by various makers, from the personal collection of leading British embroiderer Diana Springall. The 2-week programme in July also includes exhibitions of the work of local textile artists; a textile craft fair at Quarry Bank Mill; workshops on knitting, crochet, rag-rugmaking; church open days; fabric sales; factory tours; guided walks and much more – around 80 events make up a packed programme which really does have something for everyone – for those who prefer steam to silk, the Anson Engine Museum is busy restoring to its former glory the steam engine that powered the Albion Mill in its heyday. The enthusiasm with which the festival idea has been greeted, by organisations and individuals wanting to take part and by people eager to come to the exhibitions and events, illustrates perfectly the importance of textiles and the inspiration that our heritage provides into the 21st century. For full event listings or to order the free, full colour festival programme, go to www.textilefestival.com or email your name and address to Alice Ferguson at a.ferguson@visitchesterandcheshire.co.uk


				
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