West Dean Tapestry Symposium 2017

Contemporary Art and Tapestry - Artists Meet Their Makers

19 April 2017, The Old Library, West Dean College, 11am - 6pm

West Dean Tapestry Studio Symposium focuses on the relationship between art and craft, as well as questioning the role of making and the maker in contemporary practice.

Collaborations between artists and craftspeople have been seen throughout history, whether by means of painting, carving, casting, weaving, or construction of other types. The rapport between the artisan and artist is unique - it requires an understanding of the intention of the artist coupled with the skill of the maker. It is a partnership of which one is driven by their concept, idea, artistry, admiration for the maker's skill and the resulting artwork. The other is often quiet, understated and driven by their interest and love of their craft.

This symposium will explore how collaborations between artists and makers can inform each other's practice, through a number of speakers, including artists currently working with the Tapestry Studio. It will explore how tapestry can tap into a the current interest in skill-based making in contemporary art.

The symposium will coincide with a retrospective exhibition celebrating of the skill and imagination of West Dean Tapestry Studio's Master Weavers. Artists Meet Their Makers: Contemporary art re-interpreted by West Dean Tapestry Studio' will take place at The Craft Study Centre in Farnham from 1 April-17 July 2017, and will include works by Henry Moore, Basil Beattie, Michael Brennand-Wood and Tracey Emin.

Learn more about the Tapestry Symposium speakers

View the Tapestry Symposium timetable

Book the Symposium

Aims of the Symposium

The symposium will explore the status of hand woven tapestry within the context of contemporary art and craft practices. Focus will be placed on engaging with complex questions concerning the history and future of tapestry weaving in relation to technological advances, and a renewed interest in skill-based making in contemporary art.

It will bring together a number of speakers, including current practitioners, to contextualise and assess Tapestry weaving today and ask:

  • What work is being produced by weavers today?
  • What challenges do tapestry weavers face within the art world?
  • What influence does a professional studio and its weavers have on the development of tapestry within the art world today?

Master Weaver, Katharine Swailes
Title: Uncovered, Size: 60cm x 60cm, Artists: Emma Biggs & Matthew Collings
Master Weaver, Philip Sanderson.
A sample is created for artist Rebecca Salter in the Tapestry Studio by Philip Sanderson
Artist and Weaver, Emelie Röndahl
Title: Jean Baptistberringer, Emelie Röndahl
Designer and Weaver Jo Barker
Jo Barker, Image: Swirl
Jo Barker, Image: Swirl
Curator, Mardi Nowak
Lecturer, Annelie Holmberg
Lecturer, Annelie Holmberg
Tapestry woven by Katherine Swales Master Weaver at West Dean College
Uncovered tapestry sample by Katharine Swailes, Master Weaver at West Dean College
Henry Moore Tapestry, Sample
Artwork by Rebecca Salter
Henry Moore, Cartoon