Roubaix looks to Britain 1840-1968
8 October 2022 – 8 January 2023
During its 19th century expansion, Roubaix had one model in mind, the British textile industry. Oscillating between mutual admiration and fierce competition, the town’s entire history is punctuated by regular dealings with the United Kingdom, for industrial and technical reasons, shared commercial interests, as well as social, political and artistic debate.
From the 1840s, when Roubaix-based industrialists were stepping up production, until 1968, when the town was twinned with Bradford, a variety of fertile exchange took place. Mutual interest mainly centred around the textile industry: technical visits, equipment purchasing, establishing British companies in Roubaix, exchanging fabric designs and the ongoing question of wool sourcing from Commonwealth countries… There were several high points in the early years of the 20th century: in 1908, with London’s Franco-British Exhibition, where many Roubaix companies distinguished themselves, and in 1911, with the success of the International Exhibition in Roubaix, which welcomed delegations from Australia and New Zealand. These exchanges continued between 1920 and 1968, culminating in a state visit from Queen Elizabeth II in 1957.
Within the textile sector, the question of industry-related social models was also debated in Roubaix, as were training issues at the National School of Textile Arts and Industries (ENSAIT) and British educational models. Diplomacy, sport and music are all very present. Might Roubaix be France’s answer to Manchester?
Curator: Gilles Maury
Graphic design of signage Les produits de l’épicerie Catalogue published to coincide with the exhibition (ateliersgalerieeditions)
The design was made possible thanks to generous support from the paints distributed by Tollens.