Material Power: Palestinian Embroidery

Majd Abdel Hamid
Mounira Al Solh
Maeve Brennan
Aya Haidar
Mona Hatoum
Khalil Rabah
and Bilab bi delo

Curated by Rachel Dedman

8 July - 29 October 2023, Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, UK

Material Power: Palestinian Embroidery
is organised by
Kettle’s Yard in collaboration with The Whitworth,
The University of Manchester, where it will travel from
24 November 2023 – 7 April 2024.

Material Power: Palestinian Embroidery explores 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 looks at the ways in which embroidery, primarily undertaken by women, has evolved through a century of turbulent history for the Palestinian people.

This is 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 Nakba 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 are artworks by five contemporary artists, films of embroiderers speaking about their work and rarely seen archive material.

The exhibition at Kettle’s Yard is accompanied by Rachel Dedman’s 2016 book, At the Seams: A Political History of Palestinian Embroidery, published by the Palestinian Museum, available to purchase in the Kettle’s Yard shop.

The exhibition is generously supported by The Orange Tree Trust and the Material Power: Palestinian Embroidery Supporters Circle.

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