Monday, 23 April 2012

Made in the Middle at mac Birmingham

A bit behind with posting this as I am working hard on my Degree Show quilt but I desperately wanted to go and see Made in the Middle at mac Birmingham before it closed on the 15th April.  An amazing exhibition of contemporary craft from Midland based artists.  Many of the artists have abandoned their original careers to make second careers in the art world.  Jan Garside for example, was originally a midwife, then attended night classes, an access course to further education and then went on to do a degree in textiles.  A similar story to myself as I had worked for BT for donkeys years and after going to night school to do GCSE Art, decided to make the great escape from my beloved employers into the crazy world of art by way of a Foundation course and now I'm on a Fine Art degree.  In Trace she has hand-woven  shoes that sit on an a vintage church pew chair with hand woven fabrics and laser cut garlands.
One of the themes of the exhibition was 'New Skills' with many established artists embracing new digital techniques.  Karina Thompson is a textile artist specialising in embroidery who now uses digital embroidery in much of her work.  Her piece 60 Beats a Minute is a quilt made of embroideries of an echocardiogram which is an ultrasound test of the heart.
Textile artist Imogen Luddy is also turning to new digital techniques by combining the traditional practice of crochet and embroidery with laser cutting and marquetry.   I loved her table laid with  a metal laser-cut cross-stitch tablecloth complete with laser-cut cake stand, embroidered napkins and wooden chair with laser marquetry crocheted doillies. Love the plates on the wall combining ceramics with digital printing and  traditional crocheted doillies.      
I couldn't miss out knitting which is always dear to my heart.  Amy Twigger-Holroyd is known for her knitted garments but she has developed a new technique called 'stitch-hacking' which means she alters the pattern in an existing garment to create text by laddering and re-forming the stitches.

Also exhibiting was mixed media artist Jennifer Collier from Unit Twelve .  Jennifer runs a thriving gallery and workshop space at Unit Twelve just outside Stafford.  I've been a fan of her work for a few years now, ever since she did a workshop at my daughter's school. Earlier this month I attended one of the workshops there run by Emily Notman one of the other artists at Unit Twelve - see my previous post Jennifer Collier & Emily Notman at Unit Twelve. Jennifer creates the most amazing paper sculptures by stitching, moulding and waxing. 

These ceramic plates put me in mind of the pots of Grayson Perry. Sorry, I forgot to write the artist's name down.

 Zoe Hillyard  has a textile background and combines the china of the Midlands pottery industry with fabrics by sewing all the broken pieces together to form a 'ceramic patchwork'. 


  1. Interesting exhibits. Funny, my daughter and I were only saying the other day we hadn't heard of anything happening at MAC in ages. Perhaps their advertising isn't so good? Anyway, will look out for more. Particularly liked the pottery sewn together!

  2. Hi Jacqui,
    you got the rationale behind my work all wrong. its nothing to do with unborn babies. I am not being funny about this but thought you might like to know what the work is really about.
    this might help explain more
    thanks for the metion though
    karina thompson

  3. Sorry Karina, I really got that wrong didn't I? I've put it right now on my blog. I was really interested in your embroidery as I had seen your work before in an exhibition with Alice Kettle at the Forge Museum in Redditch and also a feature in Embroidery Magazine.

    1. Hi Jacqui
      you didnt have to make work for yourself by re posting. quite a few people have made this mistake so hopefully updating the QR codes will enable people to understand it better. the main thing is you were moved by the piece and that is the REALLY important thing isnt it?