Art textiles

Subtraction, erasure, conjecture – exploring interpretive practice with Michael Brennand-Wood

Ref: S4D09914


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About this course

In this ideas-based workshop, explore the open-ended theme to question the relationship between subtractive and interpretive practice. Choose to bring an object, idea or image to work with. Strengthen your own artistic practice through the tutor's mentoring, on this both fun and perplexing workshop.

Course Description

The purpose of this workshop is to question the relationship between subtractive and interpretive practice. You will focus on additive processes, the generation on paper and fabric of accumulative information. What happens if we take an existing image or theme and subject it to a process of systematic reduction, what strategies and critical analysis might we employ? At what point does the erasure of physical material and thematic information morph into something new and unexpected?

As a basis for your experimentation, you need to bring an object, image, idea or theme that you wish to subject to a process of deconstruction and interpretation. It may be a non-textile object, an appliance, a piece of furniture, frame, light, tool, basket or book. It might be a physical material for instance an item of clothing, coverlet, carpet, hat or curtain. Imagery might be obscured, erased, overlaid, cut, veiled, removed in a variety of physical forms, utilizing techniques such as cut work, appliqué, shadow quilting, darning, mending, wax resist, gathered, dyed or pieced work. As a point of reference, textiles found within museums collections offer a rich source of fragmentary information, residual visual clues that infer lost content and context.

Equally you may wish to investigate an idea or image exploring conceptual processes that are specifically related to the methodologies of subtraction, erasure and addition i.e. a passage of time, the censure, banning, editing of political or socially unacceptable information and imagery, mutated, hybridised and destroyed images; the conjecture and interpretation of archaeological sites and found objects or reconstructive processes that emulate an absence of hard visual evidence. How additions to creatively replace, not restore may be driven by a change in taste or fashion.

Both a physical and conceptual deconstruction can be considered. The choice is yours. Ideally your starting image should be both a challenge to you and contain enough possibilities to investigate over the four days. You will present a sequence of experimentation that articulates your thinking and thought processes. Michael encourages strategies and critical analysis. Documentary processes that chart an object or ideas demise and reconfiguration will inevitably encompass photography, text, drawing and collage.

Critique and group discussion play an important component of the course. Emphasis will be placed on the investigation and research of personal imagery and the development of related technical innovation, ideas that can be developed at a later stage. Above all it will be an experience, hopefully both fun and perplexing in equal amounts.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


  • Included in the course fee is the cost of general materials supplied for the course.

What students need to bring

  • Please bring:
  • • Your object. Source and bring an object as the focus of your investigations on the course
  • • A collection of further materials, that you enjoy using and which are relevant to your investigation e.g. wires, threads, string and wool, fabrics, paints, drawing media, a personal paint/work box
  • • Camera to record work
  • • Sketchbook or work that explains something about your own practice or ideas and interests, to be used to introduce yourself at the start of the workshop
  • Some basic tools and materials will be provided to supplement your palette


Michael Brennand-Wood

Michael has an international reputation as one of the most innovative artists working in textiles today. He has lectured at Universities in London, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Poland and USA.His work is represented in collections worldwide, including the Victoria & Albert Museum and the National Gallery of Australia.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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