Events and News

Artificial Silk creates space for the imagination.

By connecting people, places and objects we find new ways to understand the past and forge cultural superhighways in the present.

even longer feathers


Saturday 24th June 2023

Sadabahar: Evergreen Leek
HuG green arts festival
Foxlowe Arts Centre garden, Stockwell Street, Leek
Free entry


On the back of our new postcard you can write what ‘evergreen’ means to you. Your words and ideas have the chance to be published on this website.
Drop by and say hello at the HuG green arts festival in the Foxlowe garden between 1 and 3pm on Saturday 24th June.
You might want to greet us with the word ‘sadabahar’, which is just another way of saying ‘evergreen’.



In the festival garden meet young people who have important things to say about pollinating plants and insects and protecting nature.

Say hello to Devasiachan Benny, British Council India eco-tourism scholar, who is travelling to Leek (via Kerala in southern India).

Chat to students from Buxton and Leek College and the Staffordshire schools taking part in climate projects with Moorlands Climate Action.

Meet the new Leek Mayor, Matt Swindlehurst. He’s saying a few words at 2.00pm about the ways Sadabahar: Evergreen Leek is connecting India and Staffordshire.


This project is part-funded by the UK government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.


Saturday 1st July 2023


CIRCLES creative writing
Museum room, Nicholson Museum and Art Gallery, Leek
Free entry

great contrast flowers on green

Find out about one of the oldest objects in the museum, a cup and ring marked stone that could be 6,000 years old.

Bring along your own object related to a circle… patterned fabric, a photo, or any circular object.

We’ll look at each object then write a few facts about it. Then we’ll use our imaginations to write more about the object, and see where it takes us.

Your words and ideas might be published on this website.

Book your FREE place by contacting Tourist Information on 01538 395530 or email or exobjects2022@

Limited to 12 creative workshop places.

ATBoyleAuthorPhotoA.T. Boyle is the events writer in residence.
Find out more about Alison’s writing and projects.

The Typing Man book was included in the event tickets. Read more about the story and its adaptations here.



Take part in exObjects 2023 online
Choose an object and write about your connection with it. If we look closely and use our imaginations, we can find new and hopeful ways to look at the world. You can create your own exObject by clicking here.

even longer feathers

Previous events at Leek Arts Festival 2023
Leek Arts Festival
Objects of Love…
On 23rd May in the gorgeous garden of Silk House Hotel we delved into the ways objects can inspire us.
Participants brought along an object that means something to them. Through conversation and writing we discovered many common – and inspiring – threads.
Silk House Hotel Garden copyr SHH
photo copyright Silk House Hotel


Imagine an Object…
On 27th April, rainy in Leek, the snug surroundings of Spout Brew House helped us explore the fact and fiction behind our objects.

We were joined by Deva Benny, who travelled from London to Leek for the first time (and before that from Kerala in southern India). Shinie Antony joined us digitally.
Spout Brew House by Richard Williams
Spout Brew House venue, photo copyright Richard Williams
Devasiachan Benny, cultural tourism scholar, Goldsmiths University, London, travelled to Leek for the first time and took part in the workshop
Shinie Antony, director of Bangalore Literature Festival and writer, joined the workshop via Zoom – see below….


Leek Arts Festival


Read some of our exObjects so far:

Small Boat on the Mantlepiece by Alison Nicholls


‘Easy Chair’ by Shinie Antony

Easy Chair image from Shinie

‘Sadabahar’ by Sauma Afreen

Sadabahar image Sauma Afreen

‘While Losing’ by Areeba Husain

Earrings IMG-20220704-WA0009

‘Akhil’s BlackBerry, our treasure’ by Uday Vijayan

Akhil's blackberry

‘Dancing skirt’ by Mahboobeh Rajabi

skirt for web

‘It’s Another Kind of Love’ by Jayshree Tripathi

Aaee crop

‘Exercise Book’ by Dr Ailsa Holland


‘My Home and Garden’ #3 by Devasiachan Benny

Flowers - smaller use for Part 3

‘Lost Garden of a Lost House’ #2 by Devasiachan Benny

flowers SMALL on stony ground

‘The Limp’ by Areeba Husain

Smaller shop Areeba Hussain 17.4.22

‘Keys of a Lost House’ #1 by Devasiachan Benny

2 separate keys IMG-20220326-083907

‘Pewter-covered Box’ by Dr Ailsa Holland

Pewter covered wooden box copyright Ailsa Holland

A Brief History of Cars’ by Afreena Islam-Wright


Baseball Cap’ by Sandra Mangan

Crop baseball cap with David

‘Watch’ by Dr Ailsa Holland

Ailsa's rose gold watch 29.1.22

and more


What is artificial silk?

Artificial silk is also a fibre made from wood pulp that is made into threads, or filaments, that can be given different colours and woven into material. Other names for it are rayon or viscose.

Filaments made in Lancashire from wood shipped from Scandinavia were formed into silk parachute canopies, sanitary pads, clothes for M&S and much, much more.

Jean Crossthwaite doing titration analysis in the lab, 1951 WPAcross four decades these filaments were sold all over the world, from 1939 when the Courtaulds Preston factory opened, to its closure with the loss of 2,600 jobs.

The machines were shipped from Preston to India in 1980, extending their life. Eighty years after that factory opened, the artificial silk made there has not lost its strength, sheen or vibrancy.

Jean Boyle pictured in 1951 doing titrations in the laboratory of Courtaulds factory, Lancashire

Find out more here.


Terry Boyle recorded: Preston’s viscose lab, a story about the titration bench…

Read Jean Boyle’s Other lives obituary published in The Guardian on 10th February 2021.


Minds Turn to India

clay cow smaller(terracotta animal, Ministry of Culture, Mysuru, southern India)

Shy to be photographed and shuftied to the front by his camera-less father, who asked us to take the photograph, the boy in the purple waistcoat appeared less comfortable than the girls. The shiny Elvis trousers and waistcoat selected to be grown in to, the big green hair decoration and yellow flip-flops were radiant against the backdrop of the Jaganmohan garden fountain.

purple waistcoat Mysuru small

A little further down the Mysuru road, the Wellington Building, home for two years (1799-1801) of the future Duke of Wellington, is now run by the Ministry of Culture’s Indira Ghandi Rashtriya Manav Sangrahalaya.

Ironwork Wellington Building Mysuru, Directorate of Archaelogy and Museums

The curators in this heritage centre have sympathetically housed amazing ironwork, terracotta and basketware to celebrate the bold craft and artistry of many tribes across India.

Duke of Wellington anthropological museum Mysuru

Further east, in Chennai, books are being digitised by the Madras Literary Society. Their display, and call to adopt a book, stood out in the gardens of Chennai’s Literature Festival.

Madras Literary Society Chennai - Alison Boyle

And in Salford a giant window display at the People’s History Museum connects textile shades made in Northern England with Indian factory workers.

macaroons on windowEngine Room window at the People’s History Museum,
in the textile exhibition linking India and England

The object below was seen up close in Mysuru’s heritage centre. It will not be forgotten.

seen and not forgotten in Mysuru small“Finding new ways to understand the past
and forge cultural superhighways in the present.”


Join the conversation




artificialsilkorg @


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