Events Walthamstow

New exhibition celebrates Walthamstow’s fashion and everyday activism

Material Witnesses is free and runs until 5th August at St Mary’s Church

Credit: NanaAma Owusu Ansah

An exhibition which celebrates local people through the lens of fashion and textiles is running until the 5th of August at St Mary’s Church in Walthamstow.

Material Witnesses features London’s only craft jeans maker, Blackhorse Lane Ateliers, and Proportion London, a leading UK mannequin manufacturer. Also displayed are unique items from the Pearly Queens of London, Black Girl Knit Club, banners created by students at Walthamstow’s Sir George Monoux College, and Sunday Best – a photography installation celebrating faith and fashion by acclaimed photographer, Ja-vanie Stephens.

The exhibition is primarily housed in the new exhibition space – built as part of St Mary’s regeneration project, which was supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund – but also spills into the main body of the church. From the balcony hangs Flags of our High Street Treasures which celebrates Walthamstow high street and was co-designed with traders, residents and community activists, and was led by Alisa Ruzavina and Artillery CIC.

Curators Ameena (left) and Korantema (right) Credit: NanaAma Owusu Ansah

Speaking to the Echo Korantema, exhibition curator, said: “Material Witnesses uses textiles, fashion and clothing to explore what’s important to us as people – from our creativity, to our culture to the environment. It specifically looks at how we use textiles in everyday activism – so the little things we do to express who we are, show what we believe in or bring people together. 

This story is published by Waltham Forest Echo, Waltham Forest's free monthly newspaper and free news website. We are a not-for-profit publication, published by a small social enterprise. We have no rich backers and rely on the support of our readers. Donate or become a supporter.

The exhibition is a bit of a love letter to Waltham Forest too. Ameena [assistant curator] and I both grew up in the borough (Ameena in Chingford, myself in Leyton) so we really enjoyed learning and sharing the very eclectic stories of all of our neighbours. There’s so much going on in the borough, this exhibition could have easily been twice the size!”

Ameena told the Echo: “Having grown up in the area, it was inspiring to connect with the diverse local community and discover their relationships with  sustainability and spirituality from grass roots to high fashion.”

Visitors are also welcome to purchase food and drinks from Froth & Rind, the Walthamstow-based independent coffee shop which has recently opened its second location in Walthamstow Village.

The exhibition is free and runs until 5 August 2023.

Find out more by going to the Material Witnesses website

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