Tuesday, 5 July 2011

London - Ruthin - Madrid (if only!)

It has been some time since I last blogged - not because I have been idle, but because the dreaded 1st Year Review is approaching and I have embedded myself into the world of Graham Sutherland and his designs for Dovecot. I really can't complain about being student as last week saw me continuing my research with a visit to the Graham Sutherland Archives at Tate Britain and the National Art Library at the V&A.
Victoria & Albert Museum

In addition I was in Ruthin for the Tapestry Study Day and the opening of Jilly Edwards' exquisite exhibition of tapestries. I was particularly interested in her intensely personal works which form diaries from journeys she has undertaken. Some of these slim tapestries stretch to metres in length, reflecting her own responses to her surroundings on each step of her travels. The Study Day brought together a very varied group of speakers, all with different interests in connection with tapestry. Fiona Mathison spoke of how the development of her tapestry weaving eventually led to her abandoning the technique and working in different materials, until a return to weaving in the past year. Philip Sanderson, of West Dean, discussed not only the 'artist-designed' projects at West Dean, but also those for which he had created designs. In contrast to many of the designs produced by painters for tapestry, Philip tends to avoid paint, instead developing his designs from photography and the landscape, which are often distorted or altered using digital software. His work was particularly striking next to Jilly's, as the use of paint is essential in her design process.
'Nowhere', designed by Philip Sanderson, woven at West Dean Tapestry Studio, copyright the artist.
Whilst in London I attended the annual Summer Party of the Anglo-Spanish Society, a charity which runs events and schemes to create strong links between Spain and the UK. The party was held at the residence of the Spanish Ambassador in London. The beautiful building contained the very best Spanish art, including a number of tapestries which had been produced at the Real Fabrica de Tapices, Madrid, founded in 1721 by Felipe V. The workshop is still in existence today and collaborates with contemporary artists in a similar way to the French tapestry studio at Gobelins, Paris.
Real Fabrica de Tapis
The more I learn about tapestry the more I realise it is a never-ending journey, a method of production which has relevance not just across borders and continents, but also through centuries and even millenia. Madrid is yet another location on my ever-growing list of tapestry places to visit.

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