Wednesday, 25 July 2012

If I had to choose...

If I had to choose a favourite tapestry in the current Dovecot exhibition it would have to be Sky Cathedral II (1974) designed by Lousie Nevelson and woven by Gordon Brennan, Fiona Mathison, Neil McDonald and Jean Taylor.

This tapestry took me completely by surprise. Before seeing the exhibition, I would have chosen Claire Barclay's quick, slow (2010) or Overall (1967) designed by Harold Cohen. I had only ever seen images of Sky Cathedral II and though keen on Nevelson's work the pictures of the tapestries she designed weren't really doing it for me. I think the nature of my encounter with it in the gallery had a big impact. Before reaching it in the exhibition, you come across an altarpiece designed by Joyce Conwy Evans. It is dazzling full of rich gold and bronze and bejewelled with embroidery. As you walk past it and round a corner you are suddenly met by the cooler, enveloping Nevelson.

Photos rarely do a tapestry justice (the ones above certainly don't). They can't convey the deep vibrating blue yarn contrasted with the technically complex pale areas of weaving. This is a tapestry outstanding not only in its design and conception, but in its execution. The sense of texture, a reference to the three dimensional quality of the maquette on which the design was based, is achieved through a variety of techniques which are captivating in their delicate detail.

It is captivating.

 Details from Sky Cathedral (1982), Lousie Nevelson, Smithsonian Collection, Washington DC

Monday, 23 July 2012

Dovecot Centenary Exhibition is OPEN

Weaving the Century Exhibition, photo by Antonia Reeve
Weaving the Century Exhibition, photo by Antonia Reeve
 The exhibition is open (details here) AND a September symposium has been announced!

Interweaving – Future Trends in Making, is Dovecot’s International Symposium for makers, doers and thinkers to come together to discuss and develop new practice and thinking.

Speakers will include:
Siobhan Davies – Choreographer and Dancer
Deirdre Nelson – Textiles Artist
Ruth Little – Dramaturg and Writer
Cat Rossi – Context Lecturer, Design School, Edinburgh College of Art/University of Edinburgh
Grainne Rice – Dovecot, Project Manager, Weaving the Century and Curator
Julie Brook – Visual Artist
More speakers to be announced shortly

Interweaving – Future Trends in Making is hosted at Dovecot as part of our 2012 centenary celebrations, and is brought together by Dovecot Studios and V&A at Dundee

Early bird price £70.00

Please call 0131 550 3660 to register your interest tickets will be available to buy online soon.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Dovecot's Namesake

This morning I visited Dovecot's namesake on Dovecot Road. The Doo'cot, as it is known by most Scots, is all that remains of Corstorphine Castle, thought to have been built around 1390. When Marquess of Bute built the original tapestry studio, which began operating in 1912, the Dovecot was included within the plot of land. This is why the studio was often referred to as The Dovecot even when its official name was Edinburgh Tapestry Studio.

It is also the inspiration behind the Dovecot symbol which is woven into every tapestry woven by the weavers. In some tapestries the symbol takes the form of a dove, but it most it is the Doo'cot itself. Though the studio has since been turned into a residence, you can still see the Doo'cot form the street. Hidden inside are 1060 nesting holes for pigeons.

The main purpose of my jaunt to Corstorphine was to visit the Corstorphine Trust. The trust is registered Scottish charity and does amazing research and outreach work to stimulate public interest in the Corstorphine, an area with a vibrant and fascinating history. Their website includes details of the opening hours of the Heritage Centre. The Trust has recently been gifted a Dovecot tapestry (which you can see here) and kindly invited Elizabeth Cumming and I to have a look. It is beautiful. It was woven around 1953 by Harry Wright as an apprentice piece and is very much influenced by the style of Sax Shaw. The Trust is currently deciding where to display it so that members of the public may view it.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

It's almost time...

... for the Dovecot Centenary exhibition!

Regular readers will have noticed the 'button' on the right margin of the blog. Click on it, and it will take you directly to the Dovecot website. Here are some of the exciting things coming up:

Weaving the Century: Tapestry from Dovecot Studios 1912-2012
13 July - 7 October 2012
Curated by Dr Elizabeth Cumming
In the 100 years since Dovecot Studios was established, the weavers have collaborated with some of the most acclaimed British and international artists. Dovecot’s centenary exhibition presents the largest collection of Dovecot tapestries to be seen for 30 years. Admission if free.

 The Art of Modern Tapestry: Dovecot Studios since 1912
Edited by Dr Elizabeth Cumming
Published by Lund Humphries, 12 July 2012
Copies can be ordered now from Dovecot's website at a special exhibition price. 
This major new publication The Art of Modern Tapestry: Dovecot Studios since 1912 celebrates the work of Dovecot Studios, since its foundation in Edinburgh in 1912. The artistic value, nature and identity of modern tapestry are explored through images, essays and the commentaries of weavers, artists and patrons

A Tapestry of Many Threads
4 - 15 August 2012 (not 8 & 9)
Written by Alexander McCall Smith  Composed by Tom Cunningham
Directed by Mark Hathaway
Alexander McCall Smith and composer Tom Cunningham celebrate a century of vibrant and colourful Dovecot tapestries in the world premiere of this dramatised production featuring some of Scotland’s most exciting young singers and musicians. Performed on the Dovecot weaving floor, alongside the looms on which the tapestries are created, audiences will be taken on an atmospheric and often poignant journey inspired by the Studios’ world-famous tapestries via songs, music and the spoken word. Featuring Beth Mackay mezzo-soprano, Andrew McTaggart baritone,Stuart Hope piano and Jacqueline Norrie violin.
Tickets must be purchased direct from EdFringe.

Keep checking Dovecot's website for news of a Curator Tour and forthcoming Symposium.
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