Quilt of a big cat with wings on a white background, a flag below that reads IRON FIST. The big cat is multi-coloured with vibrant reds and big claws and baring teeth.

About Ben Venom: All This Mayhem

All This Mayhem was a major exhibition of newly commissioned and recent work by internationally renowned, San Francisco-based artist Ben Venom, exemplifying his interest in the DIY aspect of punk culture combined with the tradition of quilting.

On display were large-scale quilts, customised jackets and embroideries, with designs that incorporate skulls, tigers and heavy metal lyrics.

Venom’s early influences come from the street - punk rock, heavy metal, and the skateboard community, leading the artist to apply his more recent work in many directions - from major museum exhibitions to commercially-driven branded commissions.

At the heart of Venom’s work is his use of re-purposed materials to create textile-based pieces, contrasting the often menacing and iconic counterculture components of gangs, punk/metal music, and the occult with the comforts of domesticity.

The reclaimed fabrics that are used in Venom’s work contain a multitude of personal histories, some donated by music fans and friends, with everyone’s unexplained stain, tear, or rip included. These salvaged pieces are sewn into a larger narrative and become a part of a collective history within the work. The fragility of the materials and their assaulting imagery are brought together in the form of a functional piece of art, with his practice framed within wider counterculture contexts, and the legacy of post-war American art and craft.

The collision of traditional quilting techniques with elements tied to the fringes of society re-contextualised both the perceptions of quilting as an art form and the use of counterculture motifs in art.

During part of the exhibition, Ben Venom was in residence in the Gallery with his sewing machine, working on a newly commissioned quilt for the exhibition.

The exhibition was part of Home of Metal, a celebration of the music that was born in Birmingham; music that introduced a whole new meaning to the word 'heavy'.

Supported by Arts Council England, players of People's Postcode Lottery, Home of Metal, Capsule, and The Roughley Trust.

Artwork: Ben Venom, Iron Fist, hand-made quilt with recycled fabric