Colour and Light is a powerful exposé on the use of colour in tapestry and weaving. Based in Dovecot Studios, it explores the work of seven weavers, and two gun tufting artists doing apprenticeships and working in the studio itself. Collaborations with other artists are also included in this exhibition. Set up in large room, the tapestries were thoughtfully spaced out, meaning that the visitors were captivated by the colour in every direction they looked.
Notable pieces of tapestry include ‘Wind Dance’ by Wilhelmina Barns-Graham, with its striking purple backdrop and custom-dyed, specifically bright-coloured stripes creating an abstract representation of a dance. These intense colours represent a key feature of the exhibition, and are used intensely on some of the more patchwork-like pieces, reflecting an impressive level of skill.
Arguably, the pinnacle of the exhibition is not the tapestries themselves but the other innovative weaving creations that are on display. This is most poignantly seen with Chris Clyne’s colourful headpiece and shoes. Working alongside Master Weaver and Studio Manager, Naomi Robertson, Clyne uses bright colours to create this quirky masterpiece. The exhibition does not stop there in terms of thinking outside the box, particularly when it comes to weaving. David Poston in collaboration with Dovecot Master Weaver, Jonathan Cleaver, explores the idea of ‘light and form’ when he makes weaving three-dimensional. Using a metallic wire structure of a titled shape, the brightly coloured weft is carefully woven into the structure. The end result culminates in two three-dimensional intricate structures.
This exhibition not only shows the work of those at Dovecot and their collaborations with others, but also introduces an interactive element to it visitors. Using an iPad, we are given a virtual tour of the Dovecot Tapestry Studios, where one can explore the space whilst listening to videos from those who work there. These videos also facilitate the visitor to understand the physical process of weaving a tapestry, as well as informing the viewer how the studio runs; down to the three years of training it takes to become a Junior Weaver, some of which have started from scratch. Naomi also talks about previous artworks the studio has curated, including their largest: a seven-by-seven-metres tapestry for the British Library in 1997 entitled ‘If Not, Not’.
Further explanation was provided about the process of creating a tapestry through the exploded diagram showing one of the tufting guns. This helps visitors understand the complexity of working with such a tool whilst wool is run through and fired in reverse under tension. However, a slight criticism of this exhibition is that it focuses too much on the process of creation rather than actually presenting a variety of different projects. This is understandable due to the length of time it takes and the intricate complexities involved in creating a tapestry.
Overall, the striking colours and sufficient information make it an interesting and engaging exhibition for people of all ages, showcasing an undervalued and under appreciated craft
At Dovecot Studios until 27th Feburary 2017