Birmingham’s Museum & Art Gallery is thriving!  Each time I visit, I am amazed at the sheer amount and diversity of people who are strolling through its galleries, stopping at this painting, or that piece of glass, reading the info boards and generally really enjoying the art and culture on offer in their city.  It thrills me that so many people see this as vital to their lives, bringing their children here for workshops and just to browse.

I hope MPs take the time to visit places like this to see how much impact art and culture has on everybody, not just an elite group of so-called ‘educated’ people, before they wield the financial axe too vigourously and cut off the lifeblood of the creative impulse that will help us rise out of our current financial climate!

I was there for a meeting of the Midlands Textile Forum, a textiles group from the West Midlands.  The group has seen a shift in its fortunes, along with many other organisations, but what is emerging is a leaner, more coherent group of committed artists who are undertaking a major exhibition this year in the Nicholson Institute in Leek, called Inspired by Flora, based on both the natural inspiration, and also the muse, and integrating influences of William Morris and The Arts & Crafts Movement, which led to the Society of Arts and Crafts in the US.

Leek was an important place in the Arts & Crafts Movement, because this is where the dyer Thomas Wardle had his dyeworks.  The quality of water in the River Churnet was what he required for his dyes and he did extensive dye research, visiting India on a number of occasions, and creating a reputation that had people like William Morris seeking him out for his expertise in traditional and natural dyes.  Jane Morris was a designer in her own right, and she and William created some wonderful designs which local women embroidered for them.  The Leek Embroideresses became highly respected artisans and the local museum (newly refurbished and opened last year) has some beautiful work on display.

So we are delighted to be holding an exhibition in this lovely rural market town with its impressive gallery space, and we will be working like the clappers to create some lovely pieces to grace the airy and beautifully well-lit room. I’ll post more information about it nearer the time and hopefully some images too so if you can’t visit in person, at least you’ll get a peek….

Back to feeding our minds!  Last night, I was reading a book called  “Why Does E=mc2 ?  (and why should we care?)” by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw, and was getting no-where fast so I went up to bed feeling very sleepy.  Just as I put out the light, my brain woke up and started firing off ideas, one after the other, which thoroughly woke me up and had me imagining wonderful fabrics and amazing textures!  It was just as if my brain needed to be thoroughly confused and in a state of blah before the subconscious could break through and give me the ideas I’ve been suspecting were lurking in the background!

So even if you don’t understand something, that incomprehension can be the means of feeing your mind for something that does mean something to you!!

Long live the vagaries of our minds!!!