Michael Brennand- Wood was born in the UK in 1952. He is a contemporary artist, he specializes in creating eccentric works of art and sculptures by the means of wood-work, embroidery lace, patterns, textiles and in recent times floral imagery, he created exuberant pieces of art from exploring and evolving his own techniques merging textiles and other media in ingenious ways. Michael’s work is distinctive because he has persisted in the amalgamation of modern and historical origin, in particular the evaluation of dimensional line, structure and pattern. His latest, traditional compositions of floral imagery applied the use of computerised machine embroidery, acrylic paint, wood, glass and collage, he studied the use of illusion of dimensions, using about two or three to create colourful, metrical, algebraic and holographic sensations, with the precise detail that morphs into optical illusions.
Brennand-Wood’s sculptures are very abstract, and he tends to play with colour and rhythm that’s seems also hallucinogenic, that the pattern creates another appearance, “ stepping into another world’ as Michael quoted. However the meaning of the piece, is that it’s not just a magical piece of delusion it is something you think about and reflect upon. He is a renowned for his innovative and original ideas, and is one of the most inspiring and creative artists that works in textiles. He believes that his art offers traditionality, mixed ethnic influences, non mainstream work, and that the most inventive contemporary textiles derive from a certain understanding of both textiles and their history. What makes Michael Brennand-Woods masterpieces so intriguing is that the eccentric bright colours and patterns hold a much more philosophical and deeper meaning, pattern is important as they convey emotions and identity as it is an encoded visual language.
When he creates his sculptures he always keeps in mind the sense of touch, as he like to convey the moral of the compositions through touch. The meaning of Michael’s artwork is essential, he likes the interchange between the fine details and the big picture, from far away it looks solely decorative, but as you look deeper you establish the miniscule details and you instantly perceive it differently. He chooses his titles to his art very seriously as they are clues behind the true meaning of the piece, the nature of the materials are significant as well, as they also hold clues and convey meanings as well, materials communicate personalities, they hold information about culture and memories, they are a tactile record of experiences that initiates sensory reactions. Michael quoted ‘ Artists should be responsive to the inherent qualities of materials and use accordingly’, which is the mark of a true artist who understands every aspect of his work and use that to his advantage.
Michael has many notorious paintings and sculptures that can be seen in many worldwide galleries and museums, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, The 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, etc. He has won many prestigious awards for his highly achieving compositions, such as The Creative Concept award in 1987 and The Fine Art award in 1989. Additionally, Michael Brennand-Wood is also a Wood visual artist, curator, lecturer and arts consultant as well, he has curated exhibitions including the infamous Fabric and Form, and co curated the Makers Eye. Until 1989 he was a senior lecturer in the department f visual arts at Goldsmiths College, University of London, only one of the colleges that he has taught extensively at. Michael has also promoted the initiation and research of Contemporary International Art Textiles, therefore he has gained a prominent position there.
Michael describes himself as ‘ an artist with a sustained interest in textiles’ his inspiration emerged from when he was a child growing up in a mill in rural north England, his grandmother was an industrial weaver, so Michael would often play with fabric and cloth, his grandmother also taught him the basics of needlecraft such as knitting, sewing and embroidery. His passion for woodwork also developed from when he was a child, as his grandfather was an engineer, and created things from wood and metal, his grandparents mainly influenced his enthusiasm and interest for the main components in his work, textiles and wood.
Michael always desired to be an artist, but he did not realize the potential of textiles until he was studying fine art at university. It was when he decided to transfer over to the textiles department, as he felt more comfortable there, that he realised that he wanted to study embroidery as it was the most unrestricted area of textiles and the area nearest to fine art, as he interpreted stitching as ‘drawing with a thread.’He was also shocked when he saw that embroidery was a ‘female’ craft, as it was the early 70s and the world was still quite sexist. However he did not let this throw him, and he worked just as hard as the women, as his work has always been about putting himself in unfamiliar territory and thinking outside the box. Embroidery and textiles were all about fine stitching and geometry, and Brennand-wood wanted to push against that. His work was always different even then as in the 1960’s schools were usually segregated, with the boys learning woodwork and the girls cooking, so Michael brought something new and different skills into his work.
His approach was the key though, Michael was thoughtful and profound about why, which and what he was doing with his artwork. His artwork is so elaborate and genius because he stated that his work is about ideas not just technique, which differs him from other artists. For him, making things is the first step, the thinking process , it may be old fashioned, but to Michael is crucial in order to make a masterpiece. He only uses a computerised machine that embroiders individual flower blooms, but aside from that he makes everything himself, so everything is original and traditional. He does this because he does not want to succumb to the modern ways and stay faithful to his ‘making’ heritage, and that his work is all about working outside the mainstream.
The work Burst by the artist Michael Brennand-Wood is about war, in this sculpture there are many toy soldiers , and also flowers that remind me of poppies, and bursting out of the sculpture are similar to mine bombs that are typically used in warfare, I think the theme is conflict. Michael Brennand-Woods piece of work reminds me of Rememberance Day, when the WW1 officially ended. Because the way the toy soldiers have been stacked upon one another makes it seem that they are dead corpses in a mud ditch. The bombs exploding out of the base, implies that the atmosphere was very chaotic and violent, also the small toy planes imply warfare as well, they give the sense that they are actually flying trying to flee from the explosion. In the middle there are a few flowers sprouting from the corpses, their shape reminds me of poppies, which are the emblem for Rememberance Day, many grew from the field in which many soldiers died fighting in the war, they are red and represent the blood spilled in WW1.
There are also iron crosses, which are medals given to soldiers for their valour and bravery. The arrangement of the work is unusual because the way the soldiers are arranged makes a volcano shape, which has objects bursting from it, it is like a freeze-frame of a volcano erupting war. The way the bombs have been positioned it looks like they are being ejected and then the beautiful flowers shine through in the middle of all the carnage. Michael Brennand-Wood has split the work into sections because he wanted to draw your attention to each thing individually, first is the stack of soldiers which is big and has lots of dimensions in it, and it is also the base, where the eyes tends to start. Next you travel upward and you notice the bombs because they are an interesting shape and they are spaced out around the sculpture, then you notice the flowers hidden behind the ammunition, they draw the eye in as they are flat, unlike the everything else which is 3d they also have red, white and blue parts that stands out against the monochromatic background.
The composition of the work is interesting because I think that Michael BW implying when he made this that war is a volcano, it can explode violently and quickly at any time, it is a mess and sometimes has grave consequences, however the flowers in the piece suggest that there is always a good side to a bad one. The colours are mainly red, which signifies passion, pride but anger, jealousy and blood, many of the emotion felt through war. Blue and white colours are seen but only small, incidently blue, white and red are the colours of the Union Jack, which signifies Britain winning the war over Germany in WW1.
The dominant visual elements are form and shape as they each of the components in this piece hold a meaning but they are also visually attractive and unusual. The work is made from machine embroidered flowers, wire, toy soldiers, fabric and acrylic. The element that most affects me is the poppies as it instantly makes me feel sadness and loss of the brave soldiers that fought for our country, I reminisce of the minutes of silence on rememberance day, not only depressing emotions but also one of pride. The poppies are the most significant because they hold all those emotions of the war and they are such a powerful symbol .
The work Shellshock Vase by the artist Michael Brennand-Wood is about effect the war has on soldiers. In this picture I can recognize toy soldiers at the base, machine embroidered flowers and shapes. The theme is war, and emotion. Michael Brennand-Woods piece of work reminds me of the memories that go through a soldier’s head when shellshocked. The arrangement of the work is unusual because instead of making a vase out of soldiers, he simply just stuck them to a base vase created a disarrayed mess of soldiers, it gives the sense of confusion. The soldiers and embroidered flowers and moths are allegorical they are referencing the war. First the embroidered moths which by the quote “ moth to a flame” is interpreted as the soldiers being drawn to war, and a symptom of shellshock is that the men could not escape from the memory of war, they were ensnared by them. The flame was also the thing that would kill them, i.e. the battle as a flame would kill a moth. In some cultures., the moth is an omen of death as are the embroidered skulls on the piece.
The flowers are so-called flowers of war, or flowers of youth, referencing to the soldiers as they were youthful and young. The flowers resemble daisies, which symbolize youth and innocence. Also there are some embroidered Iron Crosses, which are the medals given to soldiers for their valour and bravery. The composition of the work is interesting because the way the soldiers have been situated it looks like a battle, the base from which all these things sprout from; death, valour,youth. The colours are mainly black and white, like the war, the war is either good and bad like black and white, there is no ‘grey’ or middle ground. The work is made from acrylic, machine embroidery, fabric and toy soldiers. When I look at this work I feel overwhelmed by the heap of soldier, but then I get a sense of sadness from the moths and flowers. The element that most affects me is the toy soldiers because it is as if they are struggling in a battle for life and all the other components in this piece evolve around the soldiers lives and future.
The work Trip, Stumble and Fall by the artist Michael Brennand-Wood is aboute religious culture. In this piece I can see three layers of intricate patterns. Michael Brennand-Woods piece of work reminds me of an origami box, the way the two bottom layers have overlapped each other, and an optical illusion with the contrasting colours and miniscule detail. The arrangement of the work is unusual because the 3rd layer is a wheel, with religious symbols on it . The wheel bares resemblance to the Buddhist symbol the Wheel of Life, it embodies birth and rebirth, trip, stumble and fall may be the moral, that whether you make mistakes or struggle you keep going on and on like the wheel of life. Connected to the wheel are symbols that also look like the eight auspicious symbols of Buddhism. They are symbols used to help you in your path of enlightenment. Michael Brennand-Wood has split the work into sections because each layer is different and holds a different meaning. The first layer is beautiful floral design.
The second layer in an intricate pattern that looks like paths, that can be translated into paths of life, that also interlocks with the chessboard type pattern on the corners, chess is all about decisions and options, which you will have to chose in life. The way the piece is displayed makes it appear like an optical illusion, as you trip upon, stumble through and fall through optical illusions of trickery and deception. The contrasting colours of red and navy, make it more difficult to discover the patterns and designs hidden beneath and the tiny complex display almost make you head ache. And also the use of using a square shape with a circle gives the piece dimension. To produce the piece the artist has used acrylic, fabric, card and metal. The element that intrigues me about this artists work is the symbols on the 3rd layer, they remind me of Buddhism symbols, but I do not specifically know, they interest me because I have never seen them before and they are unknown to me.