Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Happy New Year!

Fireworks over Edinburgh Castle, New Years Eve
The New Year always marks new beginnings, although in my case it's more of a continuation and narrowing down of the ideas I have been developing over the last four months.

Having spent the last semester easing back in to student life it is now time to focus on the more difficult task of what to focus my thesis on. Dovecot's history provides such a rich variety of tapestries, artists and personalities to examine that until recently I have had difficulty those I find most interesting. I am now considering the post-war period of the company's history, 1945-1970.

The latter half of the 1940s were one of great change in Dovecot's artistic aims. The company moved forward from designing tapestries to furnish the homes of the Bute family, to creating tapestries in collaboration with famous artists to sell on the open market. The reasoning behind this change was two fold. Firstly, it followed the commercial example set by Jean Lurcat in France; he had revived the French tapestry industry in Aubusson by encouraging famous artists such as Leger and Picasso to create designs for large scale tapestries. Secondly, the running of the company had been taken over by the Marquess of Bute's brother, Lord Colum Crichton-Stuart, and his children. They wanted the studio, at that time called the Edinburgh Tapestry Company, to be able to support itself financially - working with famous artists such as Henry Moore and Graham Sutherland would help to boost their reputation.

It is not only the calibre of artists with whom the studio was collaborating, but also the cultural and economic climate of Britain which interests me about this period. I would like to see if there is a pattern to be formed by linking the types of tapestries woven (artist designed v. weaver designed, commission v. speculative work) with the wider cultural situation in Britain, particularly the building boom of the 1950s and 1960s. This also gives me a chance to indulge my love of graphs and tables - probably the only opportunity I will have to use maths in my research!

Modern British Sculpture at the Royal Academy
January and February offer a feast of opportunities for me to travel in the UK, visiting tapestries and archives, so expect updates on my return. Highlights will include: the Whitworth Tapestry in Manchester (designed by Eduardo Paolozzi), the Graham Sutherland archives at Cardiff Museum and Gallery, a trip to Coventry Cathedral, a textile identification study day in York and a visit to the forthcoming Modern British Sculpture exhibition at the RA.

PS Father Christmas bought me some super cosy cashmere fingerless gloves so I will no longer have chilly hands whilst typing at my desk!

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