Press Release: West Dean College Visual Arts tutor shortlisted for The Cordis Prize for Tapestry 2016

Associate Tutor at West Dean College, and Master Weaver and Designer at West Dean Tapestry Studio, Philip Sanderson, has been shortlisted for The Cordis Prize for Tapestry 2016. The Cordis Prize was established by crime writer Ian Rankin and his wife Miranda Harvey, herself an amateur weaver, with £5,000 for the winner. The seven art works shortlisted are on exhibition by Visual Arts Scotland from 20 January to 21 February and the winner will be announced at a special event on 11 February in Scotland.

Philip's shortlisted work is entitled No. 13 Thrust Block Shoe and is a re-interpretation of a drawing discovered in an old engineering examination book. The drawing has gone through different stages of transition prior to weaving with alterations to scale, from 7.7cms to 122cms wide in the finished tapestry, and form; moving from a linear drawing to a silhouetted shape.

As Sanderson's research and ideas progressed the warp spacing increased to facilitate the production of larger tapestries but also to create a surface that emphasized the woven structure of the work. The weight of weft also increased proportionally; a series of coloured threads are combined with strips of plain and patterned fabric which help to add weight and to create the potential to introduce another textile language into the weaving process.

"Working with heavier materials brings a new dynamic to the weaving and allows for greater spontaneity, the translation of the image being informed partly by a basic cartoon but equally by the limitations of the warp and weft settings," says Sanderson. "During the production of the tapestry new connections and contrasts between the original drawing and the finished tapestry began to appear. I noticed that the 'industrial' object represented in the drawing was created using a woven surface that due to its heavy nature has an 'industrial' feel."

The uniformity of the weft, with little variation, gives a very flat appearance to the work and suggests a more mechanical process than that of hand weaving. Additionally the flatness of the weaving contrasts with the shape of the tapestry and the original drawing is presented as a pictorial view (similar to an isometric projection) creating an interesting tension between represented and literal surfaces.

West Dean is one of the few colleges offering full time study in Tapestry and Textile Art at postgraduate level in the UK and includes a Graduate Diploma, Postgraduate Diploma, MA (Master of Arts) and MFA (Master of Fine Art), validated by the University of Sussex. Students can specialise in Painting and Drawing, Sculpture or Tapestry and Textile Art. Each student is afforded a generous studio space, regular tutorial support and access to a broad range of visiting artists and lecturers. Sanderson is an Associate Tutor on the Tapestry and Textile programme.

Following the success and great critical acclaim of its first year, Visual Arts Scotland is delighted that The Cordis Trust Prize, the largest existing award for tapestry, will be awarded once again at Converge 2016. This year's shortlist has been drawn up by a prestigious panel of guest selectors with specialist knowledge of woven tapestry; Alison Watt, Linda Green, and Fiona Mathison, along with Miranda Harvey of The Cordis Trust and VAS President, Robbie Bushe. From over 80 entries they have selected seven visually striking works that reflect contemporary art practice andare made with the skill and technical expertise that embody the ethos of VAS.

The Cordis Prize for Tapestry 2016 shortlisted artists are:

Elke Hulse (Brasil)
Susan Mowatt (Scotland)
Gudrun Pagter (Denmark)
Justine Randall (England)
Philip Sanderson (England)
Mairika Szaraz (Belgium)
Misao Wantanabe (Japan)

College Open Day

Potential Tapestry and Textile students can see the studio in action at the next student Open Day on Saturday 6 February. For more information and to register call +44 (0)1243 818291 or email To view the digital prospectus visit

Notes to editors

  • In 2014 Philip Sanderson was shortlisted for the prestigious John Ruskin Prize Recording Britain Now for his work Nowhere and was one of only 23 artists selected from 588 entries received from all over the UK in a wide range of medium including drawing, painting, watercolour, print and mixed media.
  • An exhibition Weaving the Unicorn tells the story of the weavers of The Hunt of the Unicorn project and runs until spring 2016 at Stirling Castle.
  • West Dean College is part of The Edward James Foundation, a charitable trust also comprising West Dean Gardens, West Dean Estate and the West Dean Tapestry Studio. Charity No. 1126084.
  • West Dean College is situated on the A286, six miles north of Chichester and within easy access of Portsmouth, Guildford, Brighton and London.

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Media Contact Information

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


West Dean College, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 OQZ