Serena Partridge at Gawthorpe Textiles Collection


Project Info


  • Serena Partridge

Art Forms

  • Installation


  • Gawthorpe Textiles Collection
  • Arts&Heritage
  • Arts Council England Museum Resilience Fund

Gawthorpe Hall was one of ten heritage sites selected by Arts&Heritage to take part in its Meeting Point 2017 programme. The museum took part in a series of A&H training workshops and visits, to learn how to successfully deliver a contemporary art project. The museum then developed their own Artist’s Brief, and presented this to 70 artists from across the UK at a networking event. From Expressions of Interest, four artists were shortlisted to draw up a more detailed proposal from which the museum selected Serena Partridge for the commission.

Gawthorpe Hall is an Elizabethan gem in the heart of industrial Lancashire, and the home of a wonderful collection of intricate lace, embroidery and needlework amassed by Miss Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth.

Each artwork Serena created reflected an element of Miss Rachel’s life or character:

“The exhibition I’m working on is very much to do with the founder of the collection, a remarkable lady called Miss Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth and she put the textiles collection together. Gawthorpe Hall is her ancestral home and so my project is focusing on her life and her as a collector, as a maker, and as a teacher.”

For Luminary, Serena explored creating work on a larger scale, integrating a series of embroidered interventions in rooms around Gawthorpe Hall. The artist used vintage materials with embroidered and reflective threads: cloth that would capture the light, and played with scale as a way to encourage visitors to get up close and see the detail in the work.

As a result of Serena’s project, the Collection was able to build relationships with a number of organisations through this project which promised to be beneficial beyond its lifetime:

“Miss Rachel had a strong sense of community and worked with different groups, and with that in mind I’m working with the community for this project; I’ve been out to several schools in the local area and the children have come up with some drawings and designs that either myself has stitched, or I’m working with textile groups as well to help me stitch those designs.”

400 people attended 20 education and outreach events from the following schools and adult groups: Padiham Green C of E Primary; Altham St James’ C of E Primary; Mossy Lea Crafters, Wrightington; Phoenix Textiles, Fence; Seaside Stitchers, Blackpool; and attendees of open workshops at Pannett Art Gallery, Whitby.

Over 10,000 people visited the exhibition, which also marked the 50th anniversary of Miss Rachel’s death.

“The pieces I’m creating are inspired by motifs and techniques found in the textile collection, including items made by Miss Rachel herself. My pieces reflect on different stages of Miss Rachel’s life and draw on experiences that left a lasting impact on her and her work.”

A&H commissioned a ‘making of film’ for Luminary, capturing the artist’s process.

Gawthorpe Hall is an Elizabethan gem in the heart of industrial Lancashire. Affectionately referred to as the ‘Downton of the North’, the Hall was redesigned in the 1850s by Sir Charles Barry, designer of the Houses of Parliament and the ‘real’ Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle.

The modest Hall houses the North West’s largest collection of portraits on loan from the National Portrait Gallery as well as The Gawthorpe Textiles Collection, a wonderful collection of intricate lace, embroidery and needlework amassed by Miss Rachel Kay-Shuttleworth.

The Artist

Serena Partridge (b. 1974, North Devon) studied Design Crafts at Hereford College of Arts and is currently based in Malton, North Yorkshire.

Recent exhibitions include: Show me your Craft, Nääs Konsthantverk, Sweden (2017); Portrait of a Lady, Chawton House Library, Hampshire (2016); Accessories ~ Charlotte Great and Small, Bronté Parsonage Museum, West Yorkshire (2016) and Serena Partridge at Nunnington Hall, National Trust, York (2015).

She has been Artist in Residence at a number of locations including: The Royal Pump Room Museum, Harrogate; Notre Dame Learning Community, Glasgow; Irvine Royal Academy, Ayrshire and Scalloway Booth, Shetland Isles.