Future Focus- 2022 Cordis Prize for Tapestry
The world’s biggest award for tapestry. Rewarding ambition in contemporary weaving.
The aim of the prize is to reward ambitious, innovative, and skilled use of tapestry weaving techniques. Contemporary tapestry artists and previous Cordis Prize winners who continue to influence and inspire me to achieve through their practice, process and showing their work.
Susan Mowatt stated that the lines of weaving seemed to cascade down the two parts of the work like dripping liquids or an electronic shower of colours. “The idea was being about spending time with the actual material, when the whole world seems to be moving away from actual tangible stuff and into screen activity,” Mowatt said. “I started weaving lines and then unweaving them, not even making a product at the end of it. “I just had lots of lines, started playing around with them, and this is what I came up with after a few years. It’s about time, spending time, and using an ancient but very very simple process.”
The artist stressed ‘Weaving for me is thinking: a place where the past, present and future come together in one action. For some time, I have been weaving and unweaving lines, placing the emphasis on the process rather than the end product. Sometimes the lines are reused in works and at other times they just unravel, allowing the yarn to return to the bobbin. This ancient process continues to inform the way I see things: everything woven together.’ – Susan Mowatt, 2017. I admire this intuitive process with materials and making.
Woven from strips of yoga mats, artist Jessica Brouder deconstructs and reconstructs the materials, in pursuit of knowledge and understanding inspired by reference to the legend of Dido and Carthage. The artist stated that such tapestries were led by Dido Queen of Carthage and the myth of drawing a line around and claiming modern day Tunis with an Ox’s hide cut into strips tied end to end incorporating the shoreline. With her use of yoga mats, salt dough, plastic bags, yoghurt cartons and collage this artist continues to stretch the boundaries of tapestry weaving and the use of materials which is inspirational.
As the artist noted This tapestry is part of an on-going series of works that have been interested in qualities of light, contrasting tones of dense dark inky pools and shimmering layers of rich colour. There is always a feeling of movement – floating, sinking, spinning. I make designs in an intuitive way building up layers of drawn or painted marks and gestures. I wait for a feeling of excitement when I know that the image is right. The finished tapestries are consciously abstract and ambiguous. I want to create a sense of something as opposed to an identifiable object or picture. Jo Barker paints with threads and her use of colour with its myriad of tonal variations within colour emulates watercolour washes which create such layering effects and depth of imagery. Always in demand she exhibits widely and wisely.
The Scottish Gallery was originally established in South St. David Street, Edinburgh by Aitken Dott in 1842 as “Gilders, Framers, and Artists’ Colourmen”, the firm, as it does today, also exhibited and sold work by the leading Scottish artists of the day. As all areas of the business grew, larger premises were found in Castle Street in 1860 and a new dedicated gallery space was opened in 1897 as “The Scottish Gallery”. The gallery has been situated on Dundas Street since 1992 and its focus is on the promotion of contemporary art including textiles. My own future aim is to continue to make with meaning through being in relationship with the materials I use within context, to produce textiles through various print and weave processes and to exhibit widely in prestigious galleries like Jo Barker especially the Royal Scottish Academy, The Scottish Gallery, City Art Centre, the Dovecot Studios and Galleries, The Modern Institute, and to be a featured maker with Contemporary Applied Arts.
Contemporary Applied Arts, often called CAA, is London’s original multi-disciplinary applied arts gallery. For 70 years, they have championed and promoted only the best of British craft. Their sole aims are to advocate for the applied arts and to campaign for and foster quality and innovation in this field. They view this inter-disciplinary approach as a harmonious dialogue between materials, techniques, and diverse approaches to making. CAA actively initiates and facilitates commissions of work by their own highly skilled maker members for both public and private clients (CAA 2020).
This work marks the beginning of a new body of work by Emma which explores the depths and luminosity of colour, which is something the artist says she has always been ‘mesmerised’ by. A colourist and expert in blending and mixing colour in weave.
Twenty two tapestries by amateur and emerging artists were selected from an open submission for the 2016 Cordis Tapestry Showcase. The exhibited artists were: Julie Ballard, Judith Barton, Sarah Clark, Barb Cove, Marilyn Eustice, Catharine George, Isobel Gibson, Sarah Hill, Eileen Hughes, Pru Irvine, Sian James, Kirsteen Kershaw, Gillian Morris, Anita Nolan, Sarah Randolph, Barbara Rowell, Pamela Veale and Shona Walker.
Through placing and seeing my work alongside other textile artists I can increasingly see that my own creative practice and process does not seem out of place and is in keeping with the expected standards. As my tutor pointed out more recently… my weave and print work are already gallery ready which has helped me to be increasingly confident going forward to exhibit more, to extend my online presence to seek out commission work and to apply for competitions. In the first instance I plan to increase my membership of a range of textile groups and contemporary art organisations to extend my opportunities to show my work and to be seen.
The British Tapestry Group (BTG) curates and promotes tapestry exhibitions which encourage contemporary art practice. During 2018 they focused upon the concept of sound and weave. The Sound and Weave Exhibition explored and expanded the boundaries and language of traditional tapestry weaving; therefore, they created the opportunity for the tapestry artists to move their work on from traditional methods towards new ways of making and expressing their ideas. Taking one of tapestry’s key strengths as a visual medium – the interplay between colour, light, and texture – the artists were supported to bring in non-visual elements to create new works to stimulate and delight multiple senses.
The work of Alice Fox continues to influence and inspire me as she harnesses natural processes and works with found, gathered and grown materials which I can readily relate to and with. The artist stated that her process-led practice is based upon personal engagement with landscape and has sustainability at its heart. She is fascinated by the detail of organic things and her work celebrates and carries an essence of what she experiencse in the natural world. I like her experimental approach to these found objects with her level of engagement and relationship with the found materials.
The British Tapestry Group promotes and explores the concept of woven tapestry as a contemporary art form. By raising public awareness through its exhibitions and regional activities, the BTG showcases the combination of craftsmanship and artistic inspiration which is translated into woven works. Through membership I have been able to advance my technique, to liaise with professional tapestry artists and to exhibit regularly. Through increased contemporary art practice with the OCA and the ongoing completion of the BA (Hons) Textiles Degree Programme I have been enabled to stretch and develop my whole relationship with weaving and print, to increasingly widen my use of materials to see textiles within much wider parameters so more materials are now open to me for tapestry weaving. Going forward I plan to integrate such learning into tapestry to create increasingly impactful results for exhibition, art shows, commission work within a range of settings- gallery spaces.
Curated by Ben Divall, this display on the Viewing Balcony at Dovecot illustrates the diversity of recent rug projects created in collaboration with artists and designers including Linder Sterling, Timorous Beasties, Garry Fabian Miller and Adrian Wiszniewski.
Dovecot, renowned for its output of high-quality tapestries, has in recent years earned a reputation as a centre for the production of tufted rugs. Created in the same spirit of collaboration, quality, and sensitivity to colour blending and surface texture, Dovecot’s rug tufters provide another way of creating bespoke textiles.
Recent projects from Dovecot tufters have reached beyond the domestic or commercial interior, to include commissions for historic houses, for contemporary artist’s installations and even for use in performances. Overlooking the weaving floor, where tapestry and tufting is an ongoing process in Dovecot’s busy studio, the exhibition aims to highlight the skills of the tufters, and the diversity of projects in which they have been recently involved.
To expand the physical potential of the artist’s work, The Modern Institute who represent Connors approached Dovecot Studios to create a tapestry derived from one of the artist’s paintings. Titled Union Bug, 2019, this painting was selected by the artist to be translated into tapestry. Dovecot Master Weaver Naomi Robertson and Weaver Emma Jo Webster were particularly drawn to the layered colours and textures of the painting. While bold blocks of colour make up the structure of the work, there is a movement and depth to the canvas, and the nuance in tones of colour and brushstrokes which make it an exciting tapestry weaving.