Press Release: National Tapestry Commission Open Call, artists invited to design hand-woven tapestry

"West Dean were incredibly sympathetic, intuitive and understanding towards the colours and forms in my work. I am delighted with the translation to the woven form." Tracey Emin

West Dean Tapestry Studio, the UK's pre-eminent professional studio specialising in contemporary design using traditional hand-weaving techniques, has announced its first open call commission for artists launching 1 June. This is an exceptional opportunity for artists working in any discipline to propose a design or concept to be woven by Master Weavers. The internationally renowned Studio is looking for bold and imaginative ideas, and no previous experience of working with tapestry is required. The successful artist will be offered a three-week residency at West Dean College that will enable them to work closely with Master Weavers, expand their knowledge of the weaving process, and develop the final design. This will then be available for sale with a 50% commission.

West Dean Tapestry Studio specialises in commissions from contemporary artists and has built up a strong reputation for their interpretive skills when translating work into hand woven tapestries. Over the past 40-years the studio has developed an outstanding portfolio, including commissions from Tracey Emin (whose 'Black Cat' is the poster image for the Open Call), Martin Creed, John Piper, Eileen Agar, Basil Beattie, and Henry Moore.

"Working with West Dean Tapestry Studio was an absolute pleasure. The master weavers translated my vision into a beautiful piece of art and the attention to detail is unparalleled," says Faye Toogood.

Situated in West Dean College, the Studio's Open Call continues West Dean's tradition of supporting contemporary arts and craft practices. The successful artist will have the opportunity to work closely with the college's Visual Arts department during a three-week residency and engage in lively academic discourse around skills-based making within contemporary art.

"West Dean is very proud to be launching what we believe is the first ever Tapestry Open Call in the UK," says Alison Baxter, Head of Creative Enterprise, West Dean Tapestry Studio. "Traditional hand weaving is a highly skilled process and the three week residency will offer the unique opportunity to explore hand woven tapestry within the context of contemporary art and craft practices. Hand weaving is a time-rich creative practice with the potential to produce complex and innovative pieces."

Entries are invited from emerging to mid-career artists who are resident in the UK. Online entry will be available from 1 June and the closing date is 1 September 2016 at 5pm. Shortlisted artists must be available for interview during the week commencing 19 September and the winner will be announced on 3 October. The three-week residency will take place between October and December 2016 and the tapestry will be woven between January to July 2017. For full details and entry requirements visit

Selector Panel

Simon Martin, Artistic Director, Pallant House Gallery.
Helen Turner, Curatorial Assistant, Cass Sculpture Foundation.
Philip Sanderson, Master Weaver and Associate Tutor in Visual Arts.
Katharine Swailes, Master Weaver and Designer.
Alison Baxter, Head of Creative Enterprise, West Dean College.
Sarah Hughes, Artist.

Since it was founded by Edward James in 1971, the College has developed a portfolio of programmes that bridges the two disciplines and is now internationally renowned for it's teaching in Conservation of historic objects and the Creative Arts.

West Dean Tapestry Studio is open to the public weekly on Wednesdays 1.30pm to 2pm. For group visits or further details on commissioning a tapestry contact the studio on +44 (0)1243 818233.


Notes to editors

  • West Dean Tapestry Studio is part of The Edward James Foundation, a charitable trust which also comprises the West Dean College, West Dean Gardens and the West Dean Estate. Charity No. 1126084.
  • Pallant House Gallery
  • Cass Sculpture Foundation
  • Studio Toogood
  • Sarah Hughes
  • Twitter #WDTapestryStudio.
  • All photography is copyright free to use for editorial purposes.

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Media Contact Information

For further information, high-resolution digital images of filming opportunities contact

Irene Caswell, Senior Media Officer, +44 (0)1243 818301


West Dean College, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 OQZ