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Gather: Material Matters

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It’s nearly 60 years since Marshall McLuhan said ‘The medium is the message’. We thought it would be fun to gather a collection of speakers known for their affinity with a particular material – because the relationships we have with the mediums we use are unique – and hold stories we don’t often hear. Our speakers are an eclectic mix of material masters, working hands-on across varied mediums and methods; acrylic, glass, paper and even the microscopic!

Design maverick Harriet Vine MBE is co-founder and Creative Director of Tatty Devine, the iconic and pioneering British jewellery brand that showed the world what could be done with colourful acrylic. Co-founded with Rosie Wolfenden in 1999 in the heart of East London, they are the world’s go-to brand for original and fun statement jewellery, pushing boundaries of what is possible in jewellery design.

Williard Wigan (another MBE owner!) is a master of miniature material creations. Alongside his MBE he’s also achieved two Guinness World Records and an Honorary Doctorate, been the subject of an award-winning Channel 4 documentary, and had his art exhibited across the globe, attracting celebrity collectors. He is living proof that learning differences can be a superpower and that small things really do matter.

Tamar Nikki Palmer is a curious maker who delves into historical topics to study, develop, and produce innovative glass works – motivated by socioeconomic inequalities faced by ethnic groups. Hailing from Detroit and now based in the Black Country, her glasswork is unique in that it combines interesting aesthetics with interactive raw materials such as metals, ceramics, and enamels.

Last but not least… Rob Ryan is a visual artist who specialises in paper-cutting and screen-printing. His work combines beautifully intricate silhouettes and patterns with sentimental autobiographical phrases – all carefully cut from paper with a scalpel. Since studying Art Foundation at Birmingham Polytechnic he’s gone on to be featured in Vogue, collaborate with fashion designer Paul Smith and collectors of his work include Helena Bonham Carter and Tim Burton.

There’ll be some delicious street food and the Birmingham Design Shop will be on site supplying all your creative needs, and some of the speakers will also have products & books on sale on the night, which you can get signed.


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