Black Sheep – The Darker Side of Felt

DSCF8480The Scotsman and I have just returned from a short visit to the North West of England basing ourselves in Manchester. We saw two plays – the early 20th Century ‘Hindle Wakes’ at the Bolton Octagon and Rona Munro’s play, Scuttlers at the Manchester Royal Exchange – both set amongst mill workers but very different experiences. We also went to the Manchester Art Gallery, the newly reopened Whitworth Gallery – well worth a visit, and to the Atkinson in my home town of Southport.  However one of the main reasons for my wanting to go was to see a felt exhibition in Oldham (my Father’s home town).  It was called Black Sheep – the Darker Side of Felt.   Its publicity material said that it ‘explores the edgier side of the extraordinary and versatile material of handmade felt; showcasing seven artists from across Europe and North America who create technically-brilliant, surreal and sometimes unsettling artworks.’ so I was looking forward to seeing some of the more creative and often unexplored uses of felt.  I wasn’t disappointed.  One of the reasons I am so into felt is that it is such a versatile and sculptural medium and yet so much that is out there seems clunky and often kitsch…

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Marjolein Dallinga

Maria Freise

Maria Freise

Barbara Keal

The exhibition certainly didn’t disappoint – from the fragile porcelain like pieces of Gladys Paulus, to the sculptural organic forms of Maria Friese and Marjolein Dallinga and the animalistic felt of Barbara Keal.

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