An exhibition of Textiles and Hair Braiding from AWAD Global

Saturday February 25th – Friday March 31st 2023 

We are excited to welcome the organisation African Women’s Culture, Arts and Development (AWAD) Global to Arc’s Gallery Cafe at Hat Works from February 25th 2023.

Aiming to partner with Stockport-based arts organisations to connect people and bring cultures together, AWAD Global worked closely with Arc and the Hat Museum during 2022. They performed on the factory floor and ran courses in Arc’s Gallery Cafe in West ‘African Textiles’ and ‘Creative Hair Plaiting’. The group will be exhibiting vibrant textiles and hair plait designs from recent projects, both of which have strong connections to community activities that are common for women in Africa to do with their families.

Hair plaiting skills are passed from mother to daughter, bringing the family together and speaking visually about personal identity. Hair plaiting today has been taken to new levels through TV competitions and huge festivals, bringing the biggest and most creative designs to a global audience. 

Until British influence in the 18th century, all-natural and environmentally conscious fabrics, bush leaves and other plant-based dyes were the only materials and colourings used for techniques like tie dye, which is popular in Africa.

If you’d like to contact AWAD Global, talk to them further about their work or about working with them, you can reach the team at

There will be a range of creative activities for all the family to take part in at the exhibition’s launch as part of our Saturday Art Club on February 25th from 11:00-15:00, including hair plaiting, plus snakes & lions.

Through African Women’s Eyes is open for the launch in The Gallery Cafe at Arc at Hat Works from 11:00-15:00 on Saturday February 25th, then 10:00-16:00 on Thursdays and Fridays until 16:00 on Friday March 31st 2023.

About AWAD Global

The charity’s Director MamaToro was the first and a leading Stockport African woman who has spearheaded the campaign and promotion of recognition of black people’s existence and cultural life in Stockport since 1986.

Her relentless efforts in promoting African Arts and Culture in England in organisations, schools and colleges and contribution to Stockport cultural life through various groundbreaking arts and cultural heritage projects has deepened Stockport people’s understanding of diversity and easing the integration of black people living there.

Black Africans in Stockport were inspired to be active in society. Her work especially built the confidence of those working in Stockport to feel a greater sense of belonging, which similarly inspired local people and artists.

Her lifelong campaign is now yielding interest and contributing to Stockport diversity agendas.

MamaToro originally described the activities of AWAD as “An organisation that benefits African women and the local communities in which they live.” – in MamaToro’s case, Stockport – “a grassroots African women’s organisation, based in Manchester. In 1994, in collaboration with the British Council, AWAD spearheaded the campaign for recognition of the key role of arts and cultural values in health, education and environmental, social and economic concerns of grassroots African women, and AWAD became an independent charity in 2000. Now AWAD Global, the organisation aims to bring women of all cultures together through educational, creative and social skill sharing activities.

“The training (facilitated by AWAD Global) recognised and respected the women’s cultural skills and treated them as women of substance. They are women with dignity and self-pride, they have suffered from the effects of war and living in a new environment with a different culture was a huge change. AWAD worked in a different way from western organisations.”

Reviewing their progress to date and recognising they needed to be based in their local community, AWAD found a new base in Manchester and embarked on a new strategy around developing new partnerships and self-help groups and building on its existing African links. 

AWAD recommends the following for a healthy and happy community working together:

  1. To be appreciative of other people’s culture as a source for learning
  2. To take the cultural values of other people as a system you have not understood. This perspective will enable you to know how it feels for other people to understand the western system.
  3. To be open and do not prejudge any groups of people.
  4. Do not apply preferential treatment to any one group. Instead, enable other groups to emerge and become involved in the community.

For even more about AWAD’s previous projects, please visit here