|Edward Bawden, Farming (1950)|
|Elizabeth Blackadder, Eastern still life (1980)|
|Archie Brennan, At a Window VII, The Spotted Dress (1980)|
Tapestry:Weaving the Century at Dovecot Studios marks the centenary of the Edinburgh-based studio that was originally set up by the Marquess of Bute - back in the days of Downton Abbey - to furnish his homes. And you thought Sanderson wallpaper was posh ...
The studio has recently been rehoused in a former public baths and I'll definitely be making a visit next time I'm in Edinburgh. (There are only two British tapestry studios. The other is West Dean.)
My ideas about tapestry were pretty much Louis XIV's Gobelins meets William Morris. I certainly wasn't thinking about the swing of the pleats in that black and white dress.
Stanley Spencer was thrilled by the one and only tapestry ever produced from his work. (Not in the Compton Verney exhibition, but maybe I can catch it here if I'm quick.)
David Hockney was less impressed when he visited Edinburgh to check on progress and realised that a line that took two minutes to draw took three weeks to weave. (Hockney's work is called A Tapestry made from a Painting, made from a Painting of a Tapestry, made from a Painting. Which had my brain in knots!
I'm not sure whether I was more impressed by the fact that weavers traditionally worked from the back of the loom; so they could only see the front of the tapestry by peering through the warps at its reflection in a mirror ...
Or simply bowled over by the way one weaver decided in the 1960s to work from the front, which demanded a whole new set of skills - but gave the finished work so much texture and expression.
For those who love wool shops and yarn, there is one room devoted to having a go yourself. Suffice to say, weaving is not a buried talent that I didn't know I had. You need more than nimble fingers.