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The Whitaker - Cabinet of Curiosities

Updated: Feb 9, 2022

I recently paid a visit to the award winning Whitaker Gallery & Museum and I can't recommend it enough. Set in beautiful park grounds near the centre of Rawtenstall it is a hidden gem.

After being awarded a Heritage Lottery Grant in 2019 it has undertaken a complete refurbishment, restoring the 1840s home of George Hardman and combining it with a modern front; the building itself is a piece of art. The contrast between old and new is a theme that runs throughout the gallery, including the pieces on display.

'The Collector'

Now I am writing this blog as I have found possibly one of my favourite displays to date and I must tell the world! The cabinet of curiosities is a small room inside the gallery and it is filled with the most weird and wonderful pieces, but the main stand out for me is found as you walk round the corner. There on a small stage stands a victorian woman with an unusual head; surrounded by fabric plants she steals the show. Now I know this sounds odd but stick with me, I mean look at that display! It gives me Alexander McQueen meets Dr Who vibes and I am here for it.

'The Lady with The Bird Head'

The fabric plants are a main feature for me; created by Kay Kennedy with the help of the volunteer staff they are quite the statement piece and something I would definitely feature in my own home. The idea of creating plants using odd bits of fabric is so simple yet so effective! A perfect idea for those who want a house filled with plants but are incapable of remembering to water them (*cough* me *cough*). The various shapes, patterns and textures you could create are endless, as I write this I'm looking around the office deciding which fabric I might sneak home to make my own.

'Fabric Plants' created by Kay Kennedy and the volunteers at The Whitaker

I could write about my love for The Whitaker all day but then I'd be giving away all it's best kept secrets. So, I suggest you take trip to Lancashire and take a look for yourself; have a stroll around the grounds, visit the cafe and get inspired to create!

By Jess for The Craft Cotton Co 2020

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