Tuesday 14 August 2018

Ancestral flax or linen workers? Pop into Linenopolis

Linenopolis, a new “pop-up” exhibition centre and store, has opened in the heart of Belfast’s historic Linen Quarter. Dedicated to linen, it provides an insight to the industry's social, economic and cultural history and is a showcase for the best in contemporary linen brands. It's part of the first Linen Biennale NI.

Linen plays a central role in the story of Belfast. It brought huge wealth and employment, drove rapid population growth, and directly contributed to Queen Victoria awarding Belfast ‘city status’ in 1888.

By the second half of the 19th century, Belfast boasted the largest linen industry in the world; and many of the beautiful red brick buildings in the Linen Quarter – now being comprehensively regenerated – were built to house the offices and warehouses of the industry.

Recalling the heyday of linen in Belfast, Linenopolis includes story boards, images and artefacts that highlight this heritage, and these are accompanied by moret han two dozen linen designers and artists including Katie Larmour, Mourne Textiles, Flax Fox, 31 Chapel Lane and Placed Ireland displaying their artisan wares.

Belfast Lord Mayor Councillor Deirdre Hargey officially opened the temporary attraction at the weekend. She said: “I’m so proud to see Linenopolis opening here in Belfast’s Linen Quarter. It’s the first store and visitor experience of its kind on the island of Ireland, and the fact that it’s here in Belfast, the historic home of the industry, is significant and illustrates the appetite for further opportunities in this area.

“Although this pop-up store will only be here for a short time, linen itself has a great future – as the 33 linen entrepreneurs here demonstrate. It’s wonderful to see linen featuring as an important part of Belfast’s story and our thriving creative industries once more.”

Linenopolis is located on Bedford Street, opposite the Grand Central Hotel, and will be open seven days a week until the end of September.

For more information about the Linen Biennale festival, see the programme or go to www.linenbiennalenorthernireland.com