Fast, Fast, Slow at British Textile Biennial, Blackburn and Bradford College

Fast, Fast, Slow at British Textile Biennial, Blackburn and Bradford College

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Posted 2023-09-24 by David Keyworthfollow
Audiences in Bradford and Blackburn will get the chance to be VIPs at a unique multi-media fashion show.

Fast, Fast, Slow, directed by Evie Manning and devised by theatre company Common Wealth, has been commissioned by British Textile Biennial 2023 (BTB23).

Evie Manning says: “We hope that this piece allows audiences space to reflect on their own personal relationship with clothes and fashion without judgement and allows them to connect to the personal and political themes in their own lives.”

Fast, Fast, Slow. Photo Credit: Karol Wyszynski.


It is a collaboration with The Revival based in Accra, Ghana and communities in East Lancashire, an area that once resounded round the clock to the roar of Cotton Mills and the textile industry. The region is now more characterised by employment in online retailing and the selling and buying of Fast Fashion. The Oxford English Dictioanry defines Fast Fashion as inexpensive clothing produced rapidly by mass-market retailers in response to the latest trends; frequently as modifier.

The legacy of the clothing industry will be channelled into Fast, Fast, Slow, in the form of ‘concept collections’ from six co-creators from Blackburn and Burnley.

They will work with members of The Revival, exploring issues around sustainability, body image and other fashion-related issues.

The audience will sit on either side of a catwalk, constructed from used clothing bales in Blackburn’s Cotton Exchange. The Exchange was completed in 1865 to pull together the commercial strings of the local cotton industry, which in turn relied on enslaved labour from Africa in the plantations of the American South. It opened shortly after the end of the American Civil War and the blockade of cotton. When the trade went into decline, at the beginning of the 20th century, the hall swapped selling for celluloid and became a cinema. It closed in 2005 and lay dormant until Re:Source Blackburn bought it in 2015.

The catwalk and ‘concept collection’ experience will be augmented and surrounded by video art, cinematic lighting, choreography and an electronic score.

Tori - Fast, Fast, Slow. Photo Credit: Karol Wyszynski.


Laurie Peake from British Textile Biennial says: ”We invited Common Wealth to work in the community here because we know they have an extraordinary way of enabling people to tell their own stories in the most raw and honest way.”

Common Wealth , based in Bradford and Cardiff, use non-traditional theatre spaces in their productions, including a residential house and a boxing gym, amongst others.

2023 marks the third British Textile Biennial. It will shine a spotlight on spaces left behind by the Lancashire textile industry. From the so-called ‘slave cloth’, spun and woven by hand on the Pennine moors, to the bales of used fast fashion that make their way from British high streets to the markets and toxic mountains of waste in West Africa.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) notes that textiles are estimated to account for approximately 9% of annual microplastic losses to the ocean and that textile workers are often paid derisory wages and forced to work long hours in appalling conditions.

Quoted on the website Patsy Perry, senior lecturer in fashion marketing at the University of Manchester, says: ” It would be unrealistic to expect consumers to stop shopping on a large scale, so going forward, I would expect to see more development and wider adoption of more sustainable production methods such as waterless dyeing, using waste as a raw material, and development of innovative solutions to the textile waste problem.”

See Fast, Fast, Slow at Blackburn Cotton Exchange British Textile Biennial and Bradford College as part of BD is Lit Festival .

Blackburn: Thurs 26th – Sun 29th October 2023 | 7pm | £5 (free tickets available)
Address: Cotton Exchange, 71-73 King William St, Blackburn, BB1 7DT.

Bradford: Friday 3rd – Saturday 4th November 2023 | 8pm | PAYF | Bradford College, Great Horton Rd, Bradford BD7 1AY

Running Time: 1 hour (no interval) | Suitable for Ages: 12+

BTB23 will run from 29 September – 29 October - see their website for information on lectures, tours, workshops, films, a Fashion Challenge and more.

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263059 - 2023-09-24 12:34:39

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