Thursday, 10 March 2011


My recent tapestry road trip finished with a day at the Graham and Kathleen Sutherland Archive at National Museum Wales, Cardiff. The archive was a rich source of Graham Sutherland tapestry designs and I was helped by their AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Award student Rachel Flynn, who is studying the archives. It was such a good opportunity to chat with someone who is interested in the same research area, and also a chance to share our experiences of the AHRC CDA process.

Buried in the archive was an intriguing note written by Sutherland. It had originally been archived with correspondence relating to Sutherland's design for the Coventry Cathedral tapestry, but we were able to re-date it to the 1970s. In it, Sutherland gives Fred Mann, Master Weaver at Dovecot Studios, very specific information about the colours used in his design for Form Against Leaves, woven in 1976. In it he writes:
'The question of tone or value (weight) of tone. It is important that not only should the colour be rights but that the weight of tone, one next to another, should be very exact.'
As far as I am aware, it is the only piece of existing correspondence in which Sutherland gave instructions to Dovecot's weavers regarding their interpretation of the tapestry.

Unfortunately, I do not have a good image of the tapestry, but here is a snapshot of a transparency:

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