Two weeks of glorious Barnaby Festival fun kick off in Macclesfield with a new Visual Arts Weekend, 14 -15 June, launching the 5th Barnaby Festival with a fortnight of exhibitions, site-specific installations and events, inspired by the festival theme ‘Industry’ (continuing until Sunday 29 June).

All the entries to this year’s Barnaby Photography Competition, theme ‘Industry’ are displayed in estate agents’ windows on picturesque Church Street 14 & 15 June only, with pride of place going to Alex Lane’s winning entry, A Tower of Commerce. There are plenty of opportunities for children to get hands-on over the Visual Arts Weekend! At St Michael’s there are free workshops on Saturday making clay creatures with ceramicist Helen Wright (drop in) or make watermarks and bookmarks with artist Kiran Lee (book). Su Hurrell’s ‘Ladybird Ladybird’ vintage caravan is in the churchyard on both Saturday and Sunday with free eco-workshops making paper flowerpots and seed bombs.

At the Silk Museum, artists Gemma Latham and Michelle Stephen create an interactive ‘{MACC}:CARD’ artwork, inspired by the punch cards that hold the silk pattern ‘codes’ for Jacquard hand looms to weave. Visitors can create their own personal punch card which, when added to everyone else’s, will create a demographic pattern for Macclesfield.

There’s free entry to Park Lane and the Old Sunday School during the Silk Museum Open Weekend with more Barnaby exhibitions and activities for children. Anna Riordan, Visual Arts Director “The lots to do during our new Visual Arts Weekend – and it’s a chance to explore the art exhibitions, experiences and activities before the busy bustle of the Big Weekend!”.

The town’s historic buildings, bijou shops and rich heritage collections – including an English Gothic tower, original silk pattern designs, and Jacquard hand looms – form the backdrop to dozens of eclectic exhibitions of photography, print, drawing, painting, sculpture, installation, soundworks, digital film, ceramics, costume, eco -art and performance, all free around Macclesfield town centre.

The silk mill workers are remembered in Wendy Williams’s ‘Factory’ installation at Crown Bedrooms of hand-made paper boots, displayed as if mass-produced, yet each pair is unique. G Fine Art hosts Bobby Tonge’s curious installation of sculptured animals. Charles Roe House on Chestergate again becomes a pop-up gallery exhibiting a diverse range of exhibitions with paintings and works by various artists including ‘Not Forgotten’, Geoff Archer’s photographs of Macclesfield’s World War 1 War Memorials – plus activities and talks.

Alongside the 30+ exhibitions by artists from Macclesfield and beyond, Barnaby Art presents new and site-specific commissions by the nationally-known artists Hilary Jack, Emily Speed, Mit Senoj, and Owl Project, funded by Arts Council England.

InsideOutHouse by Hilary Jack, is a ‘shed-like’ dwelling, powered in part by solar and wind and made from reclaimed office furniture and detritus. Located in Market Place, it features a faintly smoking chimney and the sound of its own construction.

Emily Speed works with sculpture, drawing, performance and film. For Barnaby Art, Speed transforms the English Gothic Savage Tower of St Michael’s church into an enigmatic reading room for one. Aptly named, Solitude, each visitor shares the space with uniquely upholstered furniture and a limited edition artists’ book about being alone.

Owl Project are a Manchester-based collaborative group who fuse sculpture and sound art. Inspired by the Jacquard hand-looms, Owl Project’s Play The Jacquard Loom at Paradise Mill, Silk Museum merges pre-steam and digital technologies transforming the process of weaving silk into sound.

Mit Senoj’s drawings displayed in the Town Hall are the result of a residency at Macclesfield’s Silk Museum and Paradise Mil. He explores the legacy of the silk industry, particularly the manufacturing processes for woven and printed fabric.

The dedicated Barnaby Art Guide or website has full listings and further details – exhibitions run until Sunday 29 June. Barnaby’s Visual Arts Weekend is followed a week later by The Big Weekend (Friday 20 – Sunday 22 June) – 3 days jam-packed with comedy, music, performance, film, family and festival events, many free. ENDS