Black Sheep

Gallery Oldham’s latest exhibition looks at a textile that has been used since ancient times – felt.  The material has a long and intriguing history and has been used for everything from military armour to housing, from cosy winter garments to conceptual art.

This exhibition – Black Sheep – is an exploration of the edgier side of this extraordinary and versatile material, looking at artists who create sometimes disturbing and bizarre oddities and technically brilliant objects.

The work in the show, which runs from February 14 until May 9, is from the best British and International artists who work with felt.

Councillor Jean Stretton, Oldham Council’s Cabinet Member for Town Centres, Culture and Tourism, said: “Black Sheep is a unique exhibition as it shows what can be made from a material which many people take to be an everyday object.”

The exhibition consists of three-dimensional work, eliminating the idea of textiles as a sheet material and highlighting its potential and abilities. Furthermore, it showcases the contemporary masters of felt making and their unique and innovative practices.

There are felt fibres to encourage visitors to literally ‘get-a-feel’ and understand felt making.

A handling collection including work from the International Felt makers Association (IFA) and also a commission piece by Stephanie Metz will be available, illustrating further the somewhat disturbing, bizarre oddities and technically brilliant objects in the show.

Maria Friese (Lichtenstein/Germany/France) specialises in creation of ‘monumental’ felt works.

East Sussex based Barbara Keal aims to create a hat for everyone in the world, inspired by real and imaginary animals, which have led to commissions by TV programmes and also fashion displays. The show includes “Heterochromia Ram”, a piece specially commissioned by The National Centre for Craft and Design (NCCD).

Horst Couture’s vibrantly coloured theatrical gowns are all unique and one-offs, sculpted in felt with dramatic aesthetics and features. Thomas Horst relishes the unpredictability of felt and challenges himself to produce garments without stitches, seams and fastenings.

Stephanie Metz lives and works in California, creating work that is inspired by “overly domesticated creatures, especially those whose form has overgrown their function”. The results are extremely bizarre and extraordinary pieces of sculpted felt.

Other artists featured include Dutch-Canadian artist Marjolein Dallinga; Gladys Paulus and emerging maker Rachel Olin.

More details on the works and artists can be found on the Black Sheep blog

The exhibition is a touring show from The National Centre for Craft and Design.