Press Release: Leading sculptor Eva Rothschild named Winner, Tapestry Commission Open Call 2016

Irish artist, Eva Rothschild, a leading sculptor who has gained extensive international recognition for her work, has been named winner of West Dean Tapestry Studio's first ever Tapestry Commission Open Call. Rothschild will be in residence at the prominent Studio working closely with Master Weavers to develop the final design. Rothschild was selected from 150 artists who submitted a design or concept to be hand woven by Master Weavers at the studio in early 2017. Entries were received from all over the UK, from the Isle of Skye to the Isle of Wight.

"I am delighted to be undertaking the tapestry commission at West Dean. I have a longstanding interest in the woven surface and pieces made using both existing hand woven rugs and woven paper and leather have had a presence in my practice for many years," says Rothschild. "All of my work in this area has been self taught and the commission offers me the opportunity to collaborate with master weavers at the highest level to develop a new artwork and to expand the vocabulary of my practice in general."

"It was very encouraging for the judges to see the high level of interest in the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of artists such as Henry Moore, John Piper and Tracey Emin to work with West Dean Tapestry Studio, and to see that so many artists believe that craft can occupy a central place in contemporary art," says Simon Martin, co-Director, Pallant House Gallery and selector panel member. "We were particularly impressed by Eva Rothschild's proposal and her interest in the weaving process. The commission will provide the opportunity for one of the leading contemporary sculptors in the UK to work with the West Dean Tapestry Studio to realise her ideas in a medium that she has previously not been able to explore."

The professional Studio at West Dean was established 40 years ago and specialises in commissions from contemporary artists using traditional hand weaving techniques. It has a strong reputation for interpretive skills when translating work into hand woven tapestries and its portfolio includes commissions from artists Tracey Emin, Martin Creed, John Piper, Eileen Agar, Basil Beattie, and Henry Moore, as well as designers such as Faye Toogood. The Studio also features its own dye laboratory which enables the weavers to create a bespoke dye book for each project, to ensure the successful translation of an image into tapestry in collaboration with the artist.

Previous experience of working with tapestry was not a requirement to enter the Open Call and the residency will offer the opportunity to develop knowledge of the hand-weaving techniques. Rothschild will also work closely with the Visual Arts department at West Dean College, engaging with students and academics around skills-based making within contemporary art.

"West Dean College is a leading proponent of how contemporary arts practice and skills-based making really complement one another, especially in relation to Higher Education," says Dr David Stent, Visual Arts Programme Leader. "Having the professional Tapestry Studio on site not only provides a fantastic resource for full-time students but also enables the Visual Arts programmes to engage directly with current discourse around contemporary art and craft, with a range of prominent artists and practitioners."

The full selection panel included: Simon Martin, co-Director, Pallant House Gallery; Helen Turner, Cass Sculpture Foundation and Sarah Hughes, artist; Philip Sanderson and Katharine Swailes, Master Weavers; Alison Baxter, Head of Creative Enterprise, West Dean Tapestry Studio.

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Notes to editors

  • West Dean Tapestry Studio is part of The Edward James Foundation, a charitable trust which also comprises West Dean College, West Dean Gardens and the West Dean Estate. Charity No. 1126084. The college, founded by Edward James, poet and supporter of the Surrealists, specialises in Creative Arts and Conservation education. www.westdean.org.uk.
  • West Dean Tapestry Studio www.westdeantapestry.org.uk.
  • Eva Rothschild is represented by www.modernart.net. Alternative to Power at The New Art Gallery Walsall until 15 January 2017. thenewartgallerywalsall.org.uk.
  • All photography is copyright free to use for editorial purposes.

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