Tag Archives: textile art

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.








The Politics of Fibre

Notes from Talk at the Whitechapel Art Gallery by Janis Jefferies and Grant Watson

– artists working outside the traditional expectations of what textiles is
– textiles being looked at as a sculptural material
– liberating the surface from the content of the frame
– break the rigidity of definitions, break the frame of reference
– natural connection from fibre to line to language
– textile and fibre works mutating, being reinvented according to the discourse of the moment
– thread of human connection
– ways of making and nun making the world
– is your craft expanding? Can you play and invent and re-invent? Once tidies up, framed and on the wall the work takes up its position and its discourse is fixed
– do we still have a hierarchy of materials or is there more acknowledgement of the repertoire of possibilities?
– so often a Political context – feminism often labelled when it isn’t
– textiles can be a transitory, mobile medium
– there are still issues of language and meaning, what you call your work can define how it is perceived

Lots and lots of artist references as well to look up
– Sam Gilliam
– Al Loving
– Richard Tuttle
– Richard Smith
– Anne Wilson (invisible labour made visible thought performance)
– Abocanowitz
– Lenore Tawney

And a few shows:
– Deliberate Entanglements (1975)
– Decorum
– Thread Lines
– Open Letter
– Textile art and the social fabric

Key thoughts for me to take forward
– textiles as a transitory material

Prism: coded/decoded

A few highlights from the Prism textile group exhibition which finished at the Knitting and Stitching Show this weekend. A few very interesting things – going far beyond ‘traditional’ textile pieces.  I find myself being drawn to those with the richest stories, which suggest there is something to tell beyond what is being displayed – clearly my project proposal popping out of my subconscious! My favourites below:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

and a final exhibit, not from the Prism group, but the Black Sheep exhibition at the same show – I loved the playing with shadows from the object. All made of felt, by Gladys Paulus.


A study in white

It’s been a windy weekend, and we didn’t really feel like venturing too far outside. Perfect opportunity to tackle a project I’ve been meaning to get started for a while. I wanted to see what I would come up with when I took away all colour and all patterns – so making a small quilt with only white fabric, and using only lines.

Silk, ribbons, lace. Clean. Quiet. Textured.

and a few close ups…..


Happy stitching,