Constructed and woven textiles

Tactile sensibility in woven tapestry with Sue Lawty

Ref: S5D10722


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About this course

Develop a heightened sensibility to subtle textural nuances within the structure, material and design of woven tapestry and use this to create a unique and personal woven language in your work.

Course Description

‘Our tactile experiences are elemental’ - Anni Albers

The overriding aim of this course is to hone eye, hand and intellect in the intricate interplay of structure, material and design in woven tapestry.

The tutor's own quiet, minimal and abstract works are strongly informed by the material of their construction. Whether working in linen, hemp, raphia or lead, she talks of the 'integrity of mark-making intrinsic to particular thread or structure' and her focus is to 'make work that speaks its own vocabulary'. These ideas will form the focus for this week.

You will generate several carefully considered samples, each examining a distinct facet in the creation of woven tapestry cloth. 

Using a repertoire of interlaced structures, participants will investigate ways of drawing with the weave to explore movement, mark, shape, pattern, rhythm, tone, texture, scale, interval, spacing or even time.

Encouraged to develop meticulous attention to detail, participants will research structure through a variety of materials. The objective here is to develop an acute sensitivity to tactile articulation and subtle textural nuances.

The dialogue between material, process and idea.

By training sensibilities in both an acute awareness of inner structure and particularity of thread, you will develop heightened intuitiveness to the integration of these with concepts, and thus be better placed to bring greater rigour to the design content of their work. 

The magnificent environment of West Dean, from the architecture and grounds to the grand tapestries inside, offers a rich stimulus from which to draw inspiration; whilst in the studio, some of the artist’s small works, samples, books and images will be available for study. A beautifully curated selection of materials including natural handspun hemp, raphia, wire, papers, silks, linens and other bast fibres will be laid out for your use.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials


On this course the tutor will supply some of the materials including warp and weft threads: raphia, linens, hemp, ramie, paper, cotton, silk, wires and some wool.

What students need to bring

Any weft threads you have, e.g. hand spun/hand dyed, twines, raffia, silks, linen, cottons, old clothes torn into strips, coloured plastic bags.
Tapestry frame – strong (not a picture frame, simple, no nails).  These are also available at the college.
Tapestry bobbins or fork (whichever you like to use) 
Sharp scissors, flat 6” ruler or lath of wood (for separating warp threads), needles, thread 
Sketch/notebook and pens and pencils
A camera would be useful

Available to buy

Available from shop:
Tapestry frames may be purchased for around £14

Please bring a small piece of previous work or your sketchbook.  It would be interesting for the tutor and other participants to see your current practice. 


Sue Lawty

Sue Lawty is a highly experienced artist, designer and teacher, whose work is in collections worldwide including the Victoria and Albert Museum, London where she held a year-long residency. Prestigious Artist Research Fellowships include Smithsonian Museums USA and University of Leeds. In 2017, Earth Materials was published about Sue’s work.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

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