West Dean Tapestry Symposium 2015


Skill-based making in the contemporary art world

Friday 31st July 2015, 11.00-17:00

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.The event will bring together a number of speakers, including current practitioners, to contextualise and assess Tapestry weaving today and will ask the questions: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?


11:00-11:15 Introduction by Alison Baxter (Head of Creative Enterprise, West Dean College)11:15-12:00 Anne Jackson (Tapestry weaver)

'The Witchcraft Series' - Anne Jackson will discuss her current project within the context of wider contemporary tapestry and textile practice. She will offer her perspective on the place of tapestry in the contemporary art world, and address some of the recurring issues it faces.12:00 - 12:45 Shelly Goldsmith (Textile artist)

'Exploring a narrative - unwoven & woven'. Shelley will be presenting her multidisciplinary textiles practice talking about the highlights and challenges of working across a range of methods, techniques and applications (print, weave, stitch and photography).12:45-13:45 Lunch

13:45-14:05 Katherine Swalies (Master Tapestry Designer Weaver, West Dean Tapestry Studio)

'Artisan or Artist: A life working with wool.' Swailes will look at her artisanal practice alongside her own works and the dialogue between the two. She uses traditional techniques with contemporary purpose. Her work covers a broad range of textile practice and construction, from costume for film, tapestries for palaces and small scale works for the collector and domestic market.

14:05-14:25 Philip Sanderson (Master Tapestry Designer Weaver, West Dean Tapestry Studio)

'Design, Translation and Production' The talk will show the development of tapestry design and production within the Professional Tapestry Studio and how the two parallel strands of Philip's practice have overlapped and influenced each other.

14:25-15:10 Yvonna Demcznska (Gallery Owner, Flow Gallery, London)

'Selling Textiles - a Gallerist's Point of View.' The talk will concentrate on the various ways of promoting both functional and fine art textiles within the gallery environment focussing on Flow gallery's in house exhibitions, touring shows and art fairs.

15:10-15:40 Tea

15:40-16:00 Dr. Liz Clay, Textile artist. A Tale of Two (small) Cities.

A collaborative project and practical exchange of ideas between two weavers from Aubusson and a felt maker from Wells.

16:00-16:45 Professor Lesley Millar (University of the Creative Arts)

'Old Dogs and New Tricks: Tapestry, Culture, Narrative and Subversion.' Lesley Millar will discuss the role of tapestry and tapestry weaving as a conduit between traditional practice and radical thinking. She will reference particular cultures where tapestry has carried both overt and covert narratives and the current, the highly energetic, young tapestry weavers in Japan.

16:45-17:00 Q&A Session

17:00-17:30 Informal visit to West Dean Tapestry Studio

17:30-19:00 Private View of Hellreaf an exhibition of small-format tapestries, curated by current West Dean MFA student, Margaret Jones.

The Auditorium, The Edward James Studios, West Dean College