top of page
Fabric of Democracy exhibition

Picture by Jonathan Richards

Amber has curated exhibitions for the Fashion & Textile Museum and the British Textile Biennial, and is developing a project for the Design Museum.


Her latest show, The Fabric of Democracy: Propaganda Textiles from the French Revolution to Brexit, featured around 150 objects from countries including Britain, America, Italy, Germany and Austria, ranging from French toile de Jouy to Japanese robes from the Asia-Pacific war, and Cultural Revolution-era Chinese fabrics which have rarely before been exhibited in the UK.

The mechanisation of textile industries from the mid-18th century led to the development of print techniques that could create more detailed imagery on cloth, quicker than ever before. These increasingly affordable processes ‘democratised’ textile decoration, allowing governments, regimes, and corporations to harness the power of print to communicate, from wartime slogans to revolutionary ideals. 

Propaganda is usually associated with public art and monumental sculpture, and in the Western world, textiles have historically been classified as ‘women’s work’, occupying the private domestic sphere. The exhibition explored how fabrics have been used as a political medium both in the home and on the body, through furnishing and fashion. It considered how textiles were used as a tool of the state across the political spectrum, from communism to fascism, and how democracies promote national identity through textile design. The show was featured in the The Guardian, Financial Times, The Observer, RIBA Journal and World of Interiors.

Amber is currently an AHRC CHASE-funded doctoral researcher at the Centre for Curatorial Studies, University of Essex, working towards a practice-led PhD considering the exhibition and display of political and propaganda textiles.

Amber is an Associate Curator at the British Textile Biennial, working across the physical and digital programmes. In 2021 she staged an exhibition, Cloth Cultures, at Haworth Art Gallery, Accrington, a former mill owner’s house. The show explored movement, migration and making through cloth, using pieces found in the Gawthorpe Textiles Collection to tell the stories behind what we wear. Focussing on four fabrics - silk, linen, wool and cotton - the show investigated the global strands of local stories that link Lancashire, at the heart of the textile industry in Britain, to areas throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas to explore the role of textiles in commerce and colonialism throughout history. The show was featured on 6Music and a digital version of the exhibition can be found online here.

Amber is also the host of the Cloth Cultures podcast for the Biennial, where she speaks to artists, historians, makers, and scientists to shed light on our textile history, delving into the stories of the objects, people and places that inspire the Biennial programme.

Fabric of Democracy exhibition
Fabric of Democracy exhibition

Pictures by Jonathan Richards, graphic design by Madalena Studio 

Pictures by Lee Smillie

bottom of page