A free exhibition will open next month at Rosehill Theatre, near Whitehaven, inspired by silk mill Sekers.
Sekers Stories brings together original artworks by Janice Murray and Helen Morgan, of Morgan Murray Arts, and poet Emma McGordon, inspired by the stories of former Sekers employees and their time working at the Hensingham silk mill.
These sit alongside images from the Sekers archive at The Beacon Museum, Whitehaven, and Sekers Fabrics in Dundee, of couture fashion design by Nina Ricci, Christian Dior and Pierre Cardin and costumes designed for the musical My Fair Lady, all using fabric produced at Sekers.
The stories were gathered following a reunion event at Rosehill in autumn 2019, which was attended by ex-silk mill employees and families.
The exhibition is part of a two-year Creative Connections programme, which opens out the unique and intriguing heritage of Rosehill Theatre and is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and the Victoria & Albert Museum, London.
From its creation in 1959, Rosehill has been intimately connected to developments in fabric and theatre design and played a crucial role in the cultural growth of Cumbria.
The final year of the project explores the links between Sir Nicholas Sekers, the founder of Rosehill and Sekers Fabrics, and artists Oliver Messel – a celebrated 20th century designer and designer of Rosehill – Cecil Beaton and Graham Sutherland, whose creations were part of the 1959 Exhibition of Paintings for Fabric Design.
These connections led to the creation of fabrics that were used throughout the fashion industry and were key to the ‘New Look’ that swept the world.
Rosehill’s project highlights how a factory on the outskirts of a remote West Cumbrian town had such an influence on high-end fashion.
In addition, a new publication will be launched. Sekers: A History in Design is a catalogue of images of fashion, fabric, factory and showroom designs. This is a companion to Rosehill: A History in Design, produced in year one of the Creative Connections project. Both publications will sit alongside the newly produced Messel’s Makers Toy Theatre and Activity Books. All are available to buy.
Creative Connections practitioner Janice Murray said: “The Sekers Stories project has been fascinating to be involved with. I met some amazing people at the reunion, who were all so proud to be part of the Sekers silk mills family and had some wonderful tales to tell.
“Emma McGordon took these as inspiration for her poignant and moving poetry, a recording of which will be shown in the auditorium for exhibition visitors to watch.
“I was privileged to visit Sekers in Dundee and uncovered an amazing archive, which can be seen as part of the exhibition.”
Free viewings of the exhibition are available 4pm-7pm on Thursdays and 11am-3pm Fridays from 3 June to 27 August. It will operate in a Covid-secure way and advance booking is necessary.
For more information and to book, see rosehilltheatre.co.uk. Alternatively, contact the box office on 01946 692422 or [email protected]