Wednesday, 2 March 2011


Next stop on my recent trip was Oxford. I had arranged to go and see a set of tapestries at St Catherine's College, with my parents in tow. They were designed by Tom Philips and woven by Dovecot in 1979-1980. There are six tapestries in total, featuring Latin quotations and emblematic depictions of wheels, references to the way in which St Catherine was martyred. The tapestries were commissioned for the dining hall in which they are situated. As with the tapestries I saw in Coventry, these are site specific. As well as being decorative, they perform an acoustic function in a room which has bare brick walls.
St Catherine's College, Oxford
I am always drawn to works of art featuring text, no matter what the medium. Perhaps this has intensified since meeting my partner, a graphic designer with a special interest in fonts. The style of lettering in the tapestries is immensely complex: different coloured letters overlapping each other.
We also had a look around the newly renovated Ashmolean Museum. The newly designed galleries are beautiful, although some cases are so crammed with items it is difficult to take it all in. The world-wide collection of textiles was fascinating and it was lovely to see so many textiles on display in one institution. I was particularly attracted to a tapestry fragment from Egypt, AD 600-700.

Tapestry Fragment, Egypt, Akhmim, AD 600-700

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