Writer Emily Doyle / Photographer Jessica Whitty
In mid-June, Digbeth Art Space proudly unveiled In Flux, a solo exhibition from local artist Imogen Morris. Months in the making, the works push the boundaries of portraiture and the perception of thread in fine art. Boards are studded with nails, and then threads strung between them to map out faces.
“My main obsession has always been with the material thread and working in thread,” explains Morris. “Portraiture initially was just a means of creating form with thread. However, over the years I haven’t swayed from portraiture. I get a proper buzz from seeing an eye come together and being able to depict the characteristics or emotions of someone. The bigger the piece the more I can play with, so I want to continue working in large scale.”
Large scale pieces dominate the gallery, spilling off of huge canvases and creeping onto the ceiling or intersecting the space with fragile, polygonal forms. Long time followers of Morris’ work will be interested to see the artist spread out not only into three dimensions, but also into a broader palette of sugary pastels.
“I can’t remember the exact point I decided to experiment with colour and what it was that inspired me to go down that route. I think a lot of my influences come into my head subconsciously – I don’t realise I’m influenced by someone until after I create the work.”
“I have been working on the solo exhibition since January, and so in terms of a time it must’ve been then. This was also around the time that I saw Betsy Bradley’s exhibition at the Ikon and started getting into Sophie Tea’s work via Instagram so I can definitely put down my influences of working in colour to their work.”
The subjects of Morris’ portraits are of friends and of strangers, but they’re all of residents of the West Midlands. Personalities bubble though the woven forms, making the crowded private view feel even more busy. Wine Freedom keeps the drinks flowing and Selextorhood’s Dee’Cleo keeps the vibe going well into the evening.
“We had more people than expected,” reflects Morris, “and it was a really good relaxed vibe. I wanted to have proper chats with more people there as I appreciated every single person that came to the event, but annoyingly couldn’t get round to everyone. But aside from that it was a great night.”
In Flux runs until 11 July at Digbeth Art Space and is open daily 8am – 5pm, so catch it while you can. Meanwhile, Imogen Morris is off to complete a residency with DegreeArt at the Bankside Hotel in Southbank this summer.
For more on Imogen Morris visit: https://www.imogenembroideryart.com/
For more from Digbeth Art Space go to: https://www.digbethartspace.com/