By Mark Anderson
Taste Contemporary is thrilled to present “Going Beyond,” a captivating two-person exhibition that showcases the extraordinary works of textile artist Michael Brennand-Wood and ceramic artist Anne Marie Laureys. These two artists, who have been closely associated with the gallery since its inception, are known for their ability to transcend the conventional and redefine the possibilities of their chosen materials. Held at Cromwell Place in London, this remarkable exhibition opened to the public on May 30th and will continue until June 4th, 2023.
Michael Brennand-Wood, a master of textiles, delves into his lifelong knowledge of embroidery and lace-making, combining it with contemporary techniques to create intricate, multi-layered sculptural textile works. In his pieces, Brennand-Wood seamlessly integrates traditional craftsmanship with modern innovation, pushing the boundaries of what can be achieved with textiles. His artistic vision goes far beyond the expected, constantly exploring new ways to interact with the medium.
Anne Marie Laureys, on the other hand, is a ceramic artist whose creative process is deeply rooted in experimentation and intuition. She begins by throwing a classic vessel on the potter’s wheel, but rather than stopping there, she boldly transforms her creations through the passage of time and the force of gravity. Laureys meticulously reshapes, remoulds, and refolds the clay, patiently listening to its voice until each work reaches its unique form. Her ceramics exude an organic quality that is simultaneously raw and refined, capturing the essence of the medium in its most dynamic state.
Brennand-Wood’s international reputation as one of the most innovative and inspiring textile artists today is thoroughly deserved. In this exhibition, Taste Contemporary proudly presents a new body of his work titled “Storyboards.” Created between 2020 and 2022, this series is largely inspired by the figure of Gulliver, bound to the ground with threads. The artist employs thread as a symbolic material that represents both fragility and strength. It can secure, bind, and join, while also acting as a connective device. Conversely, to “lose the thread” is to lose the sense of a conversation or story.
This notion of directionlessness and lack of control intrigues Brennand-Wood. “Storyboards” explores the nature of interpretation, how we navigate and respond to information, and the continuous process of creation and deconstruction. The series embraces unpredictability as a vital element of creative thought, seeking to discover new narratives within seemingly random images. Brennand-Wood states, “I’m far more interested in finding a new story within work than illustrating an existing concept.”
Incorporating a wide range of materials, such as photography, collage, thread, and fabric, each Storyboard piece commences with the construction of a patterned ground, which serves as a foundation for a diverse array of visual references.
Anne Marie Laureys’ artistic practice harmoniously resonates with Brennand-Wood’s “Storyboard” series. Like the textile artist, Laureys embraces the unpredictable and values the spontaneous in her ceramic works. She starts with a symmetrical, classic pot on the wheel and, while the clay is still malleable, she skillfully manipulates it, pulling, folding, pinching, and puncturing it. The tension beneath her fingers guides the folds, resulting in sculptural vessels that possess an air of unplanned spontaneity. However, Laureys takes her time to find the perfect shape, remoulding and refolding the clay repeatedly until it speaks to her in a distinct voice.
Each of her creations is truly one-of-a-kind, a testament to the artist’s unwavering commitment to her craft. To accompany the exhibition, Taste Contemporary published a comprehensive catalogue on the “Storyboard” series of works. This catalogue provides a deeper understanding of Brennand-Wood’s artistic journey, offering insights into his conceptualization process and the intricate techniques employed in his textile creations. It will also feature an enlightening essay by Emma Crichton-Miller, a prominent writer and the Editor-in-Chief of The Design Edit. Crichton-Miller’s thoughtful analysis will shed light on the thematic threads that connect Brennand-Wood’s works and explore the profound impact of his art on the contemporary textile landscape.
In addition to the catalogue, Taste Contemporary has organized a stimulating panel discussion as part of the exhibition’s supporting program. Emma Crichton-Miller is actively participating in this discussion, delving deeper into the artistic practices of both Michael Brennand-Wood and Anne Marie Laureys. This interactive session provides an opportunity for art enthusiasts and visitors to engage with the artists’ creative processes, gain insights into their inspirations, and explore the interconnectedness of their works.
“Going Beyond” is a testament to the enduring power of artistic innovation and the transformative nature of creativity. Michael Brennand-Wood and Anne Marie Laureys push the boundaries of their respective mediums, inviting viewers to reimagine the possibilities of textiles and ceramics. Their works challenge our perceptions, disrupt established norms, and provoke thought. By seamlessly blending traditional techniques with contemporary approaches, they transcend the expected and embark on a journey of exploration and experimentation.
Taste Contemporary, through its unwavering support of these visionary artists, invites audiences to embark on a visual voyage where imagination and craftsmanship collide. “Going Beyond” is an exhibition that encapsulates the indomitable spirit of artistic expression, captivating visitors with its depth, complexity, and boundless creativity. It is a celebration of the power of human ingenuity, inviting us all to embrace the unknown and embark on a journey of artistic discovery.
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