The hub of the Biennale, R-Space Gallery, sits at the centre of Northern Ireland’s historic linen industry. The building at 32 Castle Street, Lisburn, former Georgian Rectory to Lisburn Cathedral, is now called The Linen Rooms It is undergoing a proposed major refurbishment for completion in 2020.
In 2015 the Arts Council of Northern Ireland funded a feasibility study into a potential cultural celebration of Lisburn’s linen history, giving it contemporary relevance through a festival programme of visual arts and other related events.
Through engagement with local and international practitioners and audiences the overall programme will entertain, inform and foster fresh and approaches to an ancient fibre deeply rooted right across our local culture.
The Linen Biennale draws attention to linen and to flax fibre as an environmentally friendly material with an authentic local story. There is great potential for art and design-led developments, such as flax composites for applications like furniture, bicycles, surfboards and musical instruments.
The Art of Linen has the potential to make a substantial contribution to local tourism. Comparable events, such as the British Ceramics Biennale Stoke on Trent, and The Biennale Internationale du Lin de Pont-Neuf, Quebec (BILP) have gone from strength to strength; with the last BILP attracting 17,000 visitors, with an estimated economic impact of over £600,000. Contributing to Northern Ireland’s vibrant tourism programme, the Linen Biennale will overlap with the province-wide August Craft Month promotion by Craft NI and with European Heritage Open Day.
The team at R-Space is passionate about delivering this innovative festival in Lisburn – ‘the city in the country’. www.rspacelisburn.com