Exploring material quality in woven tapestry with Sue Lawty

Constructed and woven textiles

Ref: SLW11544

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About this course

This course will help you to develop a meticulous eye in your material choices and to become more discerning and precise in how you employ these in woven tapestry.

Course Description

Sue Lawty's own pared back 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'. Her oeuvre is defined by a minimal nuanced vocabulary and subtlety. These ideas will form the focus for this course.

Using the richnesss of both the internal and external West Dean environment as stimulus, you will explore the juxtaposition of different materials alongside one another in a series of small woven samples. A beautifully curated selection of materials including natural handspun hemps, raphia, wire, papers, silks, linens and other bast fibres will be laid out for your use.

Encouraged to develop exacting attention to detail, you will generate a number of carefully considered samples, each examining a distinct facet in the creation of woven tapestry cloth. The objective is to investigate options through experimentation and thus hone an acute sensitivity to tactile articulation.

Slide presentations will offer inspiration and a collection of the artist’s small works. Samples, books and images will be available throughout the course for study.

Personalised tuition and exchange over the three days is designed to encourage increased rigour and critical awareness in each individual’s own practice. You will leave filled with a greater confidence and an ongoing plan of action.


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 until 9pm, 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 and would like to use e.g. hand spun/hand dyed, twines, raphia, silks, linens, cottons, old clothes torn into strips, coloured plastic bags etc.
  • • Tapestry frame – strong (not a picture frame, simple, no nails)
  • • 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
  • • Camera would be useful
  • Please bring a small piece of previous work, or a sketchbook etc. It would be interesting for tutor and other participants to see your current practice.

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • Tapestry frames may be borrowed from the college, with the option of buying at the end.

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio, this includes stout covered footwear i.e. no open-toes or sandals. You may need safety boots, if specified above.


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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