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June 22, 2012 7:38 pm
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Meet the studio
Is tapestry shaking off its dusty image? Grayson Perry’s current exhibition at Victoria Miro is a homage to William Hogarth in tapestry, while the Museum of Everything showed the pop art tapestries of outsider artist Ted Willcox, writes Lauren Cochrane. At Dovecot tapestry studio in Edinburgh, the only one of its kind still operating in the UK, Jonathan Cleaver, head weaver, has noticed a change. “In the last few years, artists have got more involved,” he says. Indeed, Dovecot has worked with graphic artist Peter Saville, and arts graduates are also showing interest in the studio’s apprenticeship scheme. “There’s a fascination with making,” says Cleaver. “And you need that here. You have to focus on one thing, one image, for several months at a time.”
Dovecot’s new exhibition, “Weaving the Century”, features work by artists Edward Wadsworth, Elizabeth Blackadder and Eduardo Paolozzi translated into rugs and tapestries. These pieces will be on display along with newer collaborations between the studio and Saville, Sir Peter Blake and Victoria Crowe. Abstract, figurative, bright and monochrome, they cover the gamut of modern artistic expression.
Established in 1912 by the Marquis of Bute, Dovecot was conceived to create pieces for his stately home, Mount Stuart.
From the beginning, however, artistic links were forged, with some of the first weavers recruited from William Morris’s studio. Cleaver believes the appeal for artists is Dovecot’s highly specialised rendering skills. “The tapestry technique is essentially the same as it was 2,000 years ago,” he says. It’s intensive work. On the loom for weeks, some pieces require all five full-time weavers. The large R.B. Kitaj piece in the foyer of The British Library took a year to produce. “We don’t use digital technology to match colours,” says Cleaver. “We do it all by eye.”
‘Weaving the Century’ runs at Dovecot Studio from July 13 to October 7, www.dovecotstudios.com
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