Earlier in the year I blogged that Birmingham was the centre of the universe.
But now I can absolutely confirm that the centre has shifted a bit South of Birmingham and I can confidently proclaim that it is now Milton Keynes.
Astronomists and physicists need not read any further - the laws of quantum physics have not changed! No, the reason for this claim is the fantastic new exhibition on at the Milton Keynes Gallery called 'Hemmed In: Embroidery and Needlework from MK and Beyond'.
This exhibition has been organised in collaboration with the MK branch of the Embroiders Guild and Jamie Chalmers, otherwise known as Mr X Stitch, and presents work from the 1930s through to the present day.
The exhibition is displayed in the three galleries, each having it's own theme.
The first gallery, the Cube Gallery, shows a stunning display of work selected from the Embroiderers Guild National Collection. Some pieces hung here date from the 1930s, and what is so amazing is how contemporary they all look. One piece, Chords by Elizabeth Grace Thompson, dates from 1935 yet seems so fresh and contemporary (photographed below). Another piece that sung out to me was the stunning Indian Squares by Jean Draper dated 1985.
The Middle Gallery hosts work created by the members of the MK Branch of the Guild (using an 8 inch canvas to present work based on Milton Keynes) and work by artists who have inspired or worked with the branch over the years. What excited me most about this gallery was that there are pieces by artists who I have met and enjoyed and I have the privilege to own a piece of their work. You will know what a fan I am of Linda Miller and Angie Hughes. Both had work represented - and it gave me a real thrill to see it hung in this gallery.
And the final gallery, the Long Gallery, presents work specially selected by Jamie Chalmers, which really challenges the boundaries of textile art and embroidery. The Car Door, complete with wing mirror, is stunning and the felted Gold Rhino Head and Saola by Zoe Williams have to be seen to be believed. Other pieces challenge the definition of embroidery, but art is not about being in your comfort zone. It's about pushing boundaries and challenging concepts.
It should be said, that if a bit of gentle X stitch of flowers and gardens is your thing, then you might not enjoy this exhibition as much as I did.