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Beautiful Obscenities at MIY Workshop

A window installation by Michelle Abbott

Have you walked past MIY Workshop recently and seen the new window display? It’s full of embroidery and quilting hoops displaying abstract stitched canvases by local Brighton artist Michelle Abbott. The pieces are actually insults that have been used against people and I love this contrast of angry (often obscene) insults with the gentle art of hand sewing. I think rendering the insults this way takes all the anger out of them and almost neutralises the sentiments.

Anyway, I’ll let Michelle tell you all about the work herself………

“Beautiful Obscenities” questions the façade of domestic bliss and relationships.

Do we ever really know what goes on behind closed doors?

As outsiders do we ever really know what goes on in others’ relationships?

What do you question when the love dies?

Friends, family, strangers, the public have been asked to donate their insults – some anonymously, some singing them loudly.

“What’s the worst insult you have ever hurled at a loved one, or the worst you’ve ever received?” I asked. Whilst many donations fuelled an army of expletives and derogatory terms, some responses were chillingly simple:

“Is this it?”

And surely there is no greater insult you could receive from your lover than being told that you’re like “Cold Porridge”.

Using vibrant silk threads, hand sewn onto embroidery wheels these insults have been reinvented as beautiful bursts of abstraction. The comforting familiarity of sewing conjures up cosy associations of “Home Sweet Home” – aaahhh the cross stitch hanging by the hearth. Yet scratch behind this veneer of comfort and love and the more brutal reality of domestic bliss and relationships appears. The front portrayed to onlookers can often mask a harsher reality within – what really does go on behind the curtains. And when domestic bliss breaks down, what takes its place by the hearth? What words should replace “Home Sweet Home” when two people no longer share the love. Answers on a postcard please.

If you would like further information or make a purchase please contact Michelle on:

07770 580572



Commissions undertaken, discretion guaranteed.

Have a wander past and see if you can “see” the insults. All works are for sale and there is an accompanying price list in the workshop window, pieces range from £90 to £260. Or why not commission your own insult in honour of that “special” person in your life……

MIY Workshop Open Studio

MIY Workshop will be an open studio every weekend in May as part of Brighton’s Open House festival.

There will be work available from the following local artists:

LEE BAKER Japanese influenced silkscreen and giclee prints.

HANNAH BUCKLEY – an established, arts council funded artist, creating unique art textiles incorporating photographic, printed and embroidered imagery.

ELLA VAN BREDA – a local artist whose work explores the natural world and human place within it.

PETER JAMES FIELD – a local illustrator working for international clients such as the New York Times and Penguin books.

PATRICK FITZSIMONS – photographs taken in and around Brighton.

GITA MISTRY – House of Lily Millinery – vintage inspired, unique hats and head pieces for all occasions.  Handmade using traditional Millinery techniques in Brighton.

HOLLY MURRAY – Beautifully hand made leather wallets, purses and credit/oyster card holders.

SALLY UNDERWOOD – Graphic knitted homeware depicting maps, text & icons from Ompompom.

There will also be work from Wendy and selected MIY Workshop students.

The workshop will be open every weekend during May from 12-5pm starting next Saturday, 5th May.

We look forward to seeing you!