Saturday, February 17, 2018

Tapestry Creations of the 1980s
Art Review

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

Introduction[1]
Tapestry is simple weaving in which the warp does not show. The design is formed entirely by the weft, which is beaten down to hide the warp completely.

Although the Incas and Chinese began with it independently, tapestry weaving came to the West from the Egyptians; wall paintings show tapestries being woven along the Nile from 3,000 BC. The oldest extant tapestry is from the tomb of Thotmes III, which was made in 1,500 BC, the yarns used being linen and wool.

Inca Tunic.

A modern illustration of an ancient Egyptian fresco of weavers at work by artist Frederic Cailliaud.

The Coptic Egyptians continued the tradition and had a golden period of tapestry weaving around 500 AD. When the Arabs moved on after their invasion of Egypt, they took this art West to the Atlantic, North into Spain and France and Eastward to Syria, Persia and Turkey.

Charles Martel in 732 AD defeated the Arabs in a battle 200 kilometres South of Paris, between Tours and Posters. Three or four of the Arabs taken prisoner settled in a small village as tapestry weavers doing "Saracenic work" as it was called, teaching the French. The village is named Aubusson and is today one of the largest hand weaving community.

When Ferdinand and Isabella entered Seville in Spain in 1492, they ordered 16,000 Saracenic looms (horizontal looms) to be destroyed as part of their campaign against Arabic culture, only 3,000 surviving to continue the tradition in Spain.

The Muslim tapestries in Egypt and Asia continued with abstract or plant designs, while in the West the Christian Churches and soon afterwards, Barons, began to order tapestries depicting heroic episodes in local history and religion, which were displayed outside on pageant days. They were permanent, lasting 1,000 years and portable - it was the most expensive mediaeval art. The thick woven wool panels did more than adorn their chambers - they helped to resist the cold seeping in through the stone walls.

Roundel with a Byzantine Emperor, probably Heraclius, 8th century. Made in Egypt, possibly Panopolis (Akhmim). Tapestry weave in red, pale brown, and blue wools and undyed linen on plain-weave ground of undyed linen. Victoria and Albert Museum, London (T.794-1919).

The French work flowered again in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries at Beauvais, Aubusson and at the King's studio of Gobelin in Paris.


Tapestry Creations of the 1980s[2]
Featured below are some tapestry creations of the 1980s.

Artist: Christine Benson; Title: Dancer.
Technique and Materials: Woven tapestry; wool and rayon.
Size: 50 x 72 inches.

Artist: Elene Gamache; Title: L'Autre Moi.
Technique and Materials:High warped tapestry; wool, rayon, cotton, metallized acrylic.
Size: 39 x 51 inches.
Photography: Claire Morel.

Artist: Tricia Goldberg and Bonni Boren; Title: Untitled Abstract.
Technique and Materials: Woven tapestry; wool, cotton.
Size: 44 x 57 inches.
Photography: Al Marshall.

Artist: Joanne Soroka; Title: Fifth Business.
Technique and Materials: Woven tapestry; wool, linen, cotton.
Size: 78 x 70 inches.
Photography: Ian Southern.

Artist: Sherry Owens; Title: Surface Break.
Technique and Materials: Slit tapestry; wool, silk, linen, lurex.
Size: 72 x 48 inches.

Artist: Midori Nagai; Title: Windowscape.
Technique and Materials: Woven tapestry; wool, cotton, linen.
Size: 42 x 57 inches.
Photography: David Saltmarche.

Artist: Nancy Beller; Title: Nazca Journey.
Technique and Materials: Woven, painted, stitched.
Size: 71 x 31 inches.
Photography: Philip Gerace.

Artist: Henry Easterwood; Title: Red Garden XVII.
Technique and Materials: Woven tapestry; wool, linen.
Size: 7 x 5 feet.

Artist: Anthea Mallinson; Title: West Coast Sun God.
Technique and Materials: High warped Gobelins tapestry; wool, cotton, lurex.

Artist: Louise Weaver Greene; Title: Cathedral.
Technique and Materials: Woven tapestry; wool, linen.
Size: 81 x 60 inches.


References:
[1] Roumiana Beck in - Australia and New Zealand Complete Book of Handcrafts, Summit Books, Sydney (1977).
[2] Ed. K. Mathews, FiberArts Design Book Three, Lark Books, Asheville (1987).

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