First Lecture of the 2011 Symposium- Material Evidence

by - Thursday, September 15, 2011

Michael Brennand-Wood in front of his wall installation at the Colston Hall, Bristol, UK.

The Net Loft was full to capacity on Saturday night for the first lecture of the Maiwa Textile Symposium, Material Evidence: Reinventing Textiles. World renowned artist Michael Brennand-Wood took the audience on a journey of ideas through the making of his artworks and three-dimensional embroideries. Charllotte Kwon welcomed everyone to the first lecture of the 2011 Symposium and Tim McLaughlin introduced Michael. We've had a number of requests for those texts - we are happy to publish them here.

Few things give me greater joy than introducing an audience to the opening of the Maiwa Textile Symposium.

To arrive at this point the Maiwa staff have dedicated their knowledge, skills, considerable abilities and most importantly their enthusiasm. We wouldn’t be here tonight without them. As the director it is my privilege to see my vision and desires brought to life through the hard work of an incredible team.

We are a team that exists to transmit energy. In our life in textiles we encounter such fantastic work. Work that is the very pinnacle of human achievement. Work made through love, through mastery, skill, and knowledge. Work that is the connection between mother and daughter and often between father and son. Work that is the reason a community exists. Work that expresses what words cannot. Work that is often the result of such time consuming and intricate processes that it seems impossible.

Those of you who know me know that one of my most poignant feelings is that this work simply must not disappear. For that would be a tragedy of unthinkable proportions. In my mind it would be the equivalent of loosing a type of flower, a species of tree, a language or a friend.

This work has power in it. The power to inspire, the power to motivate, and the power to impress us with that which is possible. The role of the Maiwa Textile Symposium is to transfer this energy to a wider audience – to you.

And so at this point with speakers arriving, with workshops opening each day, with events being set up, my schedule is very full – but so is my heart.

Welcome everyone to the Maiwa 2011 Textile Symposium
Charllotte Kwon

The artworks of Michael Brennand-Wood are so unusual, so independently original that one is often bereft of a framework to discuss them. If we were to look at only one of his innovations – the migration of embroidery into a self-contained three dimensional object, and his manufacture of artifacts that are composed of these objects, we could spend the evening entranced. These are – if I were to describe them to someone who had never seen them – tiny diaramas of colour and texture. To look at the complexity and the detail of these fragmentary landscapes is to be, for a moment, an Alice who, having been shrunk quite tiny, wanders through a fantastic new terrain. The surface of one of Mr. Brennand-Wood’s creations is always in bloom – it is a field that has sprouted possibility.

It should come as no surprise that he has garnered considerable accolades in his long career. Peter Dormer, writing in Crafts Magazine has called him one of “the most influential and inventive artists of his generation.”

Joseph McBrinn, in his essay on Brennand-Wood’s work found in the recent publication “Pretty Deadly” summarizes Michael’s career path as follows:

Brennand-Wood, who initially entered art school in 1969 to train as a painter and sculptor, became intrigued by thread rather than paint. He was attracted by ‘the idea of drawing with a needle and thread and working with three dimensional line.’ He completed a foundation year at Bolton, a B.A. at Manchester, and an M.A. at Burmingham, in which he sought to push embroidery to its limits and move textile art away from the ‘hairy’ and ‘scary’ works that dominated textile art of the 1970-80s. He delved into the patterned and the decorated, and he pioneered in textiles, the sensory, the political, and the critical, and set siege to the out-dated hierarchies of an increasingly alienating and obsolete art-world.

In addition to his work as a practicing visual artist who has established and maintains a packed exhibition schedule, Michael is active as a curator, lecturer, and instructor.

Maiwa is very privileged to be able to bring Michael to the Textile Symposium for his Vancouver debut. Please join me in welcoming Michael Brannand-Wood.
Tim McLaughlin

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