Saturday 14 November 2009

Midlands Textile Forum

I have spent the day in Birmingham at the Midlands Textile Forum's Annual Symposium. We had a lecture from Michael Brennan-Wood who talked about his life as an artist-maker. I saw his exhibition at the Stroud Festival in summer this year and it all made much more sense when I heard him talk about all the years of work and development ideas that went before.

He worked from  Suzani designs but done in real flowers!!! All the flowers had their stems removed but are 3D objects because of the depth of the flower heads.  He did 38 arrangements which were all photographed and printed at 1.2 m square and all 38 ended up on the walls of a cancer hospital in York.  He has photos of these on his website.

He developed this idea over the next few years, replacing the live flower heads by embroidered circles which he moved upwards from the back plane, again giving depth and then developed this further into domes of embroidered circles which were supported by thin wires from the centre. These were what I saw at the Stroud Exhibition.  A development of these arrangements of circles was installed at the new Colston Hall in Bristol.

Another development strand was based on early lace in the Whitworth Museum.

Nice quote from him 'She who lives the longest has the most fabric'

Later in the day we had a lecture from Henrietta Lockhart who is a curator at the Birmingham Museums. She has been researching Birmingham tailors and tailoresses. The Museum has a number of examples from 1880 to 1910 made in Edgbaston (did you know tennis was invented in Edgbaston in 1870s?) which is an affluent suburb of Birmingham. Also of course in Birmingham itself. We saw lots of photos of the garments. Women wore a boned corset even for tennis!!

The MTF Open Exhibition was also on show.  Annette Lucas  does embroidery of derelict buildings and her submission was a line drawing (in black thread) of a Greek column emerging from a white and pink froth of chiffon and net. I always like her work. It is very delicate. There was a sunset done in various orange/red/black threads, stitched and over-stitched by Margaret Fairhead. There was an embroidery (hand stitched) of a Bluebell Wood seen through the glazing bars of a window by Jennifer Hall. This was fantastic. My first thought was that it was a stunning piece of weaving but, by approaching my nose to the surface, I could see that it was just solid stitching. The colour gradation was wonderful. There were lots of other items but these were my favorites.

Of course, I managed to spend a lot of money. Chrome Yellow were there, selling textile books. I don't know where they source their books but I have been so disapppointed in Watersons recently. I ended up with two large plastic bags full of books and a large bill. Several are books full of colour books but a few are on textiles.  I bought some postcards of his flower Suzanis from Michael Brennan-Wood and a brooch which he has signed! I will not be wearing it. I have decided to mount it on a black velvet background and put it on the wall.

Birmingham is having Xmas-itis in the shape of a German Christmas market from Frankfurt. The stalls were full of marzipan stollen, german bread, wooden toys and stalls selling mulled wine. The streets were packed as were the trains. But I got a seat coming home and slept after a very exciting day. Did I say we were at the surgery at 0820 to have a swine flu jab? Then I caught the train at 0910.

No photos today. I get worried about copyright. So you will have to pursue the photos throguh the website.

I ought to be weaving but that pile of new books calls and I think I will spend the rest of the evening checking on my purchases.

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About Me

I am weaver and - -. I dye my yarns with acid dyes, I paint my warps, put fabric collages and stencils on my weaving. I have three looms, a 12 inch wide, 12 shaft Meyer for demos and courses, a 30 inch Louet Kombo which is nominally portable but has a stand, two extra beams and a home-made device containing a fan reed. And last a 32 shaft Louet Megado which is computer controlled, has a sectional warp and a second warp beam and I am the proud owner of an AVL warping wheel which I love to bits and started by drilling holes in. I inserted a device for putting a cross in. I have just acquired an inkle loom and had a lesson from an expert so I can watch TV and weave at the same time. I am interested in weaving with silk mostly 60/2 although I do quite a bit with 90/2 silk. I also count myself as a bookbinder with a special interest in Coptic binding.