West Dean Tapestry Studio - weaving Tracey Emin Vanishing Lake

Tapestry Studio

One of the only professional tapestry studios in the UK

The Tapestry Studio has been working with contemporary artists and designers to translate their images into woven tapestry since 1976. Since weaving 23 tapestries for The Henry Moore Foundation, 1976 - 1987, the Studio has worked with artists John Piper, Howard Hodgkin, Eileen Agar, Matty Grunberg, Philip Sutton, Bill Jacklin and Adrian Berg.

More recent projects include The Fallowfield with Eva Rothschild, five tapestries with Tracey Emin and work with Martin Creed on, Work No.1683 for What's the point of it? at the Hayward Gallery. As well as artists, the Tapestry Studio has produced work for clients including the Houses of Parliament, The Mercers Company, The White Cube Gallery and Great Ormond Street Hospital.

It has extensive experience of heritage tapestry projects, including The Hunt of the Unicorn, a series of seven tapestries based on 15th century originals commissioned by Historic Scotland. It was the biggest weaving project undertaken in the UK for 100 years, involved 18 international weavers and took 13 years to complete in 2015.

Tapestry woven by Emma Straw at West Dean College of Arts and Conservation

Weaving in lockdown, 2020

During the Covid-19 lockdown, West Dean Tapestry Studio relocated to the kitchen or loft space of each weaver, and weaving continued - albeit on a much smaller scale. Studio Weaver Emma Straw has created a series of small tapestries inspired directly by the Empress of the Insects project that she was working on in the Tapestry Studio before the lockdown. The Tapestry is a translation of a drawing by Edward James, The Empress of the Insects at her Midsummer Night’s Ball created by James in 1983, the year before his death at 77.

Emma has selected elements of the drawing, specifically the eyes that adorn the Empress's dress, as the theme for this series of small tapestries. The production of the work has been captured in this time lapse (see below gallery).

These tapestries are for sale and can be viewed on our Tapestries for sale page.

Artist in Residence Eva Rothschild working with Philip Sanderson at West Dean College

Collaboration with Eva Rothschild

Eva Rothschild, a leading sculptor and artist-in-residence at the College during 2017-18 collaborated with tutor and Studio Leader, Philip Sanderson at the West Dean Tapestry Studio. The result of the collaboration was her first tapestry, The Fallowfield, which was acquired by Tate in 2019 and part of the Tate Britain Exhibition Walk Through British Art: 60 Years. It was also on show at Collect 2018.

Eva is primarily known as a sculptor, although she has always engaged with ways of making associated with textiles, most specifically weaving and rug making, and has a longstanding interest in the ways that artists have engaged with textile making. This commission, coordinated by Studio Leader, Philip Sanderson, gave Rothschild the opportunity to learn the principles of tapestry weaving with expert tutorage in the professional studio. Learning these principles has informed the final design which was woven by master weavers. The collaboration began following our Tapestry Open Call in 2016, possibly the first of its kind in the UK.

The Fallowfield is pictured below.

Blue tapestry in the West Dean Tapestry Studio

Contact us

For further details on commissioning a tapestry, please contact Philip Sanderson, Studio Leader, who will be pleased to provide further information or arrange a visit to the Studio.

Tel: 01243 818233
Email: [email protected]

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