Unravel – Exhibition at the Barbican in London

Unravel: The Power and Politics of Textiles in Art

Bringing together over 100 artworks by a diverse range of international practitioners to examine the ways in which artists have embraced textiles to communicate multi-layered stories about lived experience; addressing gender, sexuality, colonialism, the movement and displacement of people, ancient forms of knowledge, and more. Spanning intimate hand-crafted works to large-scale sculptural installations, the exhibition presents works that are radical in their form and politics, revealing how textiles have been forces of resistance and repair.


Exhibition Dates

On display from


Barbican Centre
Silk Street, London

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The Art Gallery is located on Level 3 and can be accessed by stairs and lifts from Level G or via the Sculpture Court if coming from outside.

Teresa Margolles, american Juju for the Tapestry of Truth, 2015. © Courtesy the artist and Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich/ Paris. Credit: © Courtesy the artist and Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich/ Paris.
Teresa Margolles, american Juju for the Tapestry of Truth, 2015. © Courtesy the artist and Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich/ Paris. Credit: © Courtesy the artist and Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich/ Paris.

Group Info

Featuring: Magdalena Abakanowicz, Igshaan Adams, Mounira Al Sohl, Mercedes Azpilicueta, Louise Bourgeois, Jagoda Buić, Cian Dayrit, Tracey Emin, Jeffrey Gibson, Sheila Hicks, Teresa Margolles, Małgorzata Mirga-Tas, Faith Ringgold, Angela Su, Lenore Tawney, Cecilia Vicuña, Billie Zangewa, and more.

Curation Credits

This exhibition is co-curated by the Barbican, London and Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam where the exhibition will be on show from September 2024.

Exhibitions: Spring, 2017


Between Land and Sea: Artists of the Coenties Slip
Menil Collection, Houston TX – April 14 – August 6, 2017
Exhibition featuring examples of the early work of Chryssa, Robert Indiana, Ellsworth Kelly, Agnes Martin, Lenore Tawney, and Jack Youngerman.

Making Space: Women Artists and Postwar Abstraction
Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY – April 15 – August 13, 2017
Drawn entirely from MoMA’s collection, this exhibition features nearly 100 works by over 50 artists created between the end of World War II and the start of the Feminist movement.
From the New York Times review:
In the 1950s, Ms. Tawney lived in Lower Manhattan, where she counted Ellsworth Kelly, Robert Indiana and Agnes Martin (who is also in the MoMA show) as neighbors. Living in an old shipping loft, she made the most radical work of any of them: towering open-warp fiber pieces that stretched from floor to ceiling and across the loft’s wide space.

Pen to Paper – Artists’ Handwritten Letters from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art
Norton Museum of Art, West Palm Beach, FL – April 18 – June 25, 2017
Organized by the Archives of American Art, this exhibition explores letter writing as an artistic act. Tawney’s letters can be seen here:

Liminal Focus
Barbara Mathes Gallery, New York, NY – April 26 – June 30, 2017
This group exhibition brings together artists of the last fifty years whose work denies singular categorization. Featuring Carla Accardi, Lee Bontecou, Terri Friedman, Jessica Rankin, Jessi Reaves and Robert Bittenbender, Mariah Robertson, Lenore Tawney, and Claudia Wieser.

Thread Lines
Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft, Louisville, KY – April 29 – August 6, 2017
Work by sixteen artists who engage in sewing, knitting, and weaving to create a wide-range of works that activate the expressive and conceptual potential of line and illuminate affinities between the mediums of textile and drawing.

Beyond Craft
Tate Modern, London, UK – permanent collection display opening May 13, 2017
Work by Olga de Amaral, Sheila Hicks, and Lenore Tawney along with archival material related to two historic 1969 exhibitions—Wall Hangings at MoMA and Perspectief in Textiel at the Stedelijk Museum—which included work by these artists.