Press Release: Call for papers, the art of tapestry at West Dean Tapestry Symposium 2017

West Dean Tapestry Studio recently announced a NEW exhibition Artists Meet their Makers which opens at the Crafts Study Centre, Farnham on 4 April 2017. The Studio is also inviting papers for presentation at its bi-annual Symposium similarly entitled Contemporary Art and Tapestry - Artists Meet Their Maker (Wednesday 19th April). Both events will shine a light on artist and Master Weaver with equal intensity, and explore how a dialogue and language is established in collaboration. Symposium presentations that engage with the relationship between art and craft, as well as questioning the role of making and the maker in contemporary practice, are welcomed from artists and makers working in tapestry and other media.

West Dean Tapestry Studio Symposium 19 April 2017 - call for papers

Proposals of no more than 300-words should be submitted to Alison Baxter, Head of Creative Enterprise [email protected] by 31 January 2017.

The internationally renowned Studio is also delighted to announce a new commission especially for the exhibition by highly acclaimed collaborative artists, Biggs & Collings. It is the first time Emma Biggs and Matthew Collings, independently established artists who began their collaboration in 2001, have worked in tapestry. Katharine Swailes, Master Weaver and Designer, will collaborate with the abstract artists to translate their oil painting int

o a handwoven tapestry approximately 105cm x 105cm. The materials will be worsted wool, dyed at the studio's own dye laboratory specifically for the tapestry, cotton and linen.

"It can be difficult finding someone who understands the visual implications that slight differences of tone between one colour and another make to a piece of work. A colour, like a musical note, does what it does in relationship with what surrounds it. Sometimes you need the colour note to jar, and sometimes to harmonise. It's great working with Katharine, as she has an inherent understanding of that. We don't need to explain," says Biggs and Collings.

"It's also been interesting seeing her experiment with materials to come up with an analogy in tapestry to the kinds of effects we create with paints and brushes. In fact, the collaboration has been inspiring. There are things we will take back from it to use in our own work, for sure."

The Studio, established in 1976, has established an outstanding portfolio of work with leading contemporary artists. Further works on display will include commissions with leading contemporary artists Tracey Emin, Michael Brennand-Wood, Basil Beattie, and Henry Moore, as well as new pieces like the Biggs & Collings and another new commission for 2017, Uncovered, by Rebecca Salter, RA.

Brennand-Wood will be giving a talk during the exhibition on working in tapestry and Transformer handwoven by Philip Sanderson, Master Weaver in 2012.

The exhibition will include tapestry samples, cartoons, yarns, dye recipe books, notes, original photographs and other reference materials from the Studio archives to cultivate a wider understanding of the traditional craft of hand weaving for visitors.

Artists Meet their Makers will be curated by Liz Cooper, contemporary craft curator and project manager with a background in art textiles and a strong grounding in contemporary visual arts. It is hoped that the exhibition will go on tour during 2017.

Artists and Their Makers will run from 4 April to 1 July 2017.


Notes to editors

  • Biggs & Collings are represented by the Vigo Gallery.
  • Crafts Study Centre, Farnham is a specialist university museum open to the public as well as a research centre and home to internationally renowned collections of modern British craft.
  • West Dean Tapestry Studio works with contemporary architects and designers including British designer, Faye Toogood. It also has extensive experience of heritage projects, including The Hunt of the Unicorn a series of seven tapestries based on the 15th century originals held in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and commissioned by Historic Scotland. The biggest weaving project undertaken in the UK for 100 years involved 18 international weavers and took 13 years to complete in 2015.
  • Liz Cooper.
  • West Dean College is the only college in the UK offering Tapestry Weaving at postgraduate level.
  • West Dean Tapestry Studio is part of The Edward James Foundation, a charitable trust which also comprises West Dean College, West Dean Gardens and the West Dean Estate. Charity No. 1126084.
  • All photography is copyright free to use for editorial purposes.

Media Contact Information

For further information, high-resolution digital images of filming opportunities contact

Irene Caswell, Senior Media Officer, +44 (0)1243 811301


West Dean College, Chichester, West Sussex, PO18 OQZ