An explosion of colour, textiles, shape and form will greet visitors to Dovecot Studios when a major retrospective exhibition of work by Michael Brennand-Wood opens for a christmas run. Forever Changes runs from the 7 December through until 12 January 2013.
Michael Brennand-Wood is internationally regarded as one of the most innovative and inspiring artists working in textiles. He makes elaborate, eye-catching wall-hung pieces that are part sculpture, part textile. Covered in an intriguing variety of materials ranging from conventional textiles to flags, CDs and badges, the pieces have elaborate visual patterns masking more profound meanings. He has persistently worked within contested areas of textile practice, embroidery, pattern, lace and floral imagery.
Born in Lancashire in the 50s, Brennand-Wood completed an art foundation course at Bolton College of Art and Design. Choosing to do a BA (Hons) in textiles at Manchester Polytechnic has since been described as “heroic” as he was the only man on the course. This choice was not too surprising when you discover that Brennand-Wood’s grandmother was an industrial weaver who taught the young Michael to sew and knit. With an engineer as a grandfather, you begin to understand the influence of structure and softness on his formative years. On completing his BA, Brennand-Wood continued to specialise in embroidery. It was the area of textiles least rooted in function and he wanted to extend the discipline by drawing in three dimensions with the linear use of thread.
Forever Changes features many previously unseen, new and important works with the emphasis very firmly on the ideas behind each piece. The exhibition will include works from the past 40 years including installation, sculptural, relief, studio and commission works. The collection of work chosen represents the significant moments spanning his artistic life – a visual biography of Brennand-Wood’s career to date.
Brennand-Wood’s floral phase of work is one of his most recognisable of his career. Textiles are heavily influenced by flowers from the Islamic through to William Morris. Crystallized Movements, constructed in 2004, is an array of beautiful coloured flowers set against a backdrop of white painted soldiers, a killing field of humans – puppets in the theatre of war. Such elegance layered with disturbing messages is a Brennand-Wood signature.
Examples of Michael Brennand-Wood’s ’s work can be seen in major public, corporate and private collections worldwide including the Victoria and Albert Museum, the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa and National Gallery of Australia, Canberra. He was appointed Visiting Professor at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2005 and is Research Fellow at the University of Ulster.
Forever Changes is originated by Ruthin Craft Centre and curated by June Hill and now adapted to show in Dovecot’s South Gallery. It will be accompanied by a fully illustrated publication which will present a biography of the work, exhibitions, events, places and concepts that have shaped Brennand-Wood’s practice.