Tag Archives: Michael Brennand-Wood

Artist’s Profile: Michael Brennand-Wood (v2)

I first wrote a profile of textile artist Michael Brennand-Wood (MBW) back in Jan 2015. His was among the first profiles I wrote when starting my MA – and as I review past things now, I find I am still fascinated by his work. Time to investigate a little deeper!

El Rayo-X (1981)

MBW’s practice is a synthesis of historical and contemporary sources, both contextually and for his technique. He persistently works within what he describes as “contested areas of textile practice: embroidery, pattern, lace and recently floral imagery.” 

Whilst respecting the history of textiles, he has built on old techniques and has tried to find new ways of thinking about them – skills such as weaving, knitting, lace-making and embroidery. He sought to move away from the decorative aspect of stitching, for example, to allow it to become more expressive. He also explored its sculptural potential as a mark made in relief on a flat plane. It is this exploration of the relationship between the two-dimensional and three-dimensional surface which piques my interest the most. MBW described his exploration of three-dimensional line, structure and pattern as:

Exploring the illusionary space between two and three dimensions, these works are colourful, dramatic, rhythmic and holographic in feel with intense detail that merges at a distance into strongly optical configurations – From MBW Website

Rather than creating an illusion of space with design or image, Michael adopts a Modernist approach of drawing attention to the physical characteristics of the thread, particularly its texture and tactile qualities. This leads to the following key characteristics of his practice:

  • Structure: the underlying geometry is responsible for giving MBW’s works a good structural foundation. The surface may often appear free, expressionistic and even chaotic, but close examination will always reveal a unifying grid beneath the layers.
  • Touch: MBW has stated that it is through touch, scent and sound – not just vision – that meaning is conveyed. The memory of feeling, smelling and even hearing the rustle or movement of certain materials interests the artist along with the resonance of textiles associated with specific events in life or history
  • Materials: work incorporates diverse materials as paint, sand, wire, net, aluminium, wood, resins, ceramics, and he uses the techniques and processes associated with other disciplines such as sculpture, embroidery, weaving and carpentry.
  • Meaning: each observer responds differently to the textiles, objects, colours and forms according to their own associations, but sometimes MBW guides his audience with signifiers, such as text, images or the inclusion of loaded objects and materials.



BABEL | Machine embroidery, wire, text, glass tile, resin, ceramic

LACE THE FINAL FRONTIER (2012) | Metal discs, acrylic paint

So what now?

Well, I remember some advice I saw for Foundation students once showing how to work with a reference artist’s processes and/or materials and use them as a platform for exploring further. This seems like a good place to start. I like the repetition of similar but non-identical forms; I like the grid structure which sits as a strong underlying foundation; I like the freedom of materials (a refreshing change from 100% maps only!)

A good opportunity to be inventive.








Artists Profile: Michael Brennand-Wood

After the leather day this afternoon, I was thinking again about an artist who has kept cropping up over my research, but who I’ve not followed up yet. This is Michael Brennand-Wood. He describes himself as ‘an artist with a sustained interest in textiles’. He makes vibrant pieces that are part sculpture, part textiles with elaborate visual patterns which mask more profound meanings. He puts into practice some of the embryonic thoughts I have at the moment, about mixing up materials using a range of textile-based techniques and paint. I particularly like the use of the paint!


His website notes that “A defining characteristic of his work has been a sustained commitment to the conceptual synthesis of contemporary and historical sources, in particular the exploration of three-dimensional line, structure and pattern. He has persistently worked within contested areas of textile practice, embroidery, pattern, lace and recently floral imagery. Sites, which offer unbroken traditions, cross cultural interventions and a freedom to work outside the mainstream. He believes that the most innovative contemporary textiles emanate from an assured understanding of both textile technique and history.

“Recent work inspired by traditions of floral imagery have utilised computerised machine embroidery, acrylic paint, wood, glass and collage. Exploring the illusionary space between two and three dimensions, these works are colourful, dramatic, rhythmic and holographic in feel with intense detail that merges at a distance into strongly optical configurations.”

And a couple of really interesting quotes:

“My work has always been about putting myself in unfamiliar territory and working in the margins and I think as a man working in a ‘female’ area I was doing just that.”

“Lace might be defined as the encirclement of space. The majority of laces are formed via the twisting of thread to create an essentially semi-transparent net. A fabric which places the emphasis on the dialogue between the borders and their enclosed spaces, a pattern of enclosure and containment.”

mbw5 mbw4 mbw3 mbw2

Very interesting stuff! I very much like the idea of layering pieces on top of each other – this is part of my love of quilting after all. Perhaps using a range of embroidery and weaving techniques interspersed with each other. This could give my work a depth of space which ‘flat quilting’ has not yet provided me with. Hmm…. Very interesting – I am suddenly feeling rather surprised that all of these ideas have emerged from just two hours stitching a three inch piece of leather…. creativity works in mysterious ways. I will let this stew for a day or so before writing my new intent cards and getting some inspired making done (Hopefully!).

ANT xx