Artificial Silk represents resilience and space for the imagination.


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

For four decades these filaments (also called viscose, or rayon) 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 manufacturing machines were shipped from Preston to India in 1980, extending their life. 80 years after the factory opened, the artificial silk has not lost its strength or vibrancy.

Jean Crossthwaite doing titration analysis in the lab, 1951 WPFrom the age of 16 Jean Boyle (pictured in 1951 doing titrations) worked as an analytical chemist in the laboratory of Courtaulds.

Jean  took part in Colours, Community & Chemistry at the People’s History Museum. She contracted Covid-19 and died at the end of 2020.

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

Read Terry Boyle’s Other Lives obituary in The Guardian on 30th August 2021.

Read about the exObjects 2022 collaboration.

Find out more about what Artificial Silk has made to date.


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

Digital public art from Invisible Flock forges cultural superhighways.

Screen Shot 2017-08-17 at 11.07.05

Engagement with arts and culture through digital technology requires fewer bricks and mortar, where projects such as DUET forge tangible connections between the north of England and India. But the object below in Mysuru’s heritage centre was seen up close, and will not be forgotten.

seen and not forgotten in Mysuru small

Find out more about the exObjects 2022 creative collaboration.

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