Material Power: Palestinian Embroidery, Group Exhibition: Aya Haidar

24 November 2023 - 7 April 2024

The Whitworth presents Material Power: Palestinian Embroidery, an exhibition exploring the historical life and contemporary significance of Palestinian embroidered craft. This ancient practice is characterised by exceptional beauty and intricacy – some of the finest dresses, known as thobes, carry over 200,000 stitches. It remains an important living tradition and the most prominent cultural material of Palestine today. More than 40 dresses and other embroidered objects, from the Whitworth’s collection and loaned from important collections in Jordan, Jerusalem and the West Bank, f on display for the first time in the UK.  The exhibition maps Palestinian embroidery’s evolution over the past century: from rich village tradition, transformed by the advent of modernity, to its politicisation and critical reinterpretation by contemporary artists. Based on research by the exhibition’s curator Rachel Dedman, Material Power explores the ways in which embroidery embodies female labour and resilience and reflects pivotal moments in Palestine’s history. The exhibition is further enriched by rarely seen archival material and works by contemporary artists including Mona Hatoum, Khalil Rabah, Mounira Al Solh, Aya Haidar, Majd Abdel-Hamid and Maeve Brennan.  
Material Power: Palestinian Embroidery has been organised by The Whitworth, The University of Manchester in collaboration with Kettle’s Yard, The University of Cambridge, where it was on display from 8 July – 29 October 2023.