Thursday, January 30, 2014

Simplified shapes of colour as design feature in tapestry

Joan Griffin
Artist Statement: The landscape is the primary influence on my tapestries. I enjoy  taking a detail element of a  landscape and translating it into my own imagery. It may be near  the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia where I live or other places I travel. Along the Blue Ridge Parkway was a wonderful collection of pink branches without their leaves in the fall and the contrast of the dark green evergreens behind. I simplified the shapes and work with the colors for my own interpretation.
Village Path was a path I saw in a small village in France with an old gate at the end but I felt as though a sunset at the end of the path was what I wanted.  Forest Edge is a  landscape that I did as a  painting before weaving. I wanted to convey that feeling of when you walk out of the darker forest and into the light and all the colors that meet your eyes especially with the sun shining.
The relationship between color and form is the most important consideration, with combinations of fine wool, silk and metallic yarns because of the different way that they react to light. As each  tapestry develops I have a conversation  with the  shapes and memories  from the landscape and find it a never ending source of inspiration.
Joan Griffin’s BiographyI began my art career as a watercolor painter and art teacher  but became a weaver about 40 years ago concentrating on tapestry for the last 30+ years.  I have been working on pieces from 2 inches sq. for my mixed media pieces to large 8 ft wide pieces. The scale is always a challenge and I like to switch back and forth. My work  has been shown both regionally and throughout the country as well as completing commissions for hospitals, churches, residences and libraries.  I have also participated in the Art In Embassy program sponsored by the US State Dept.  Several times a year, I teach small groups of tapestry students  in my Charlottesville, VA studio. (taken from the ATA website)

Rebecca Mezoff let us know about this: 
The Metropolitan Museum of Art is having a show of 20 rarely seen royal tapestries from the early 1500s in October, 2014. In preparation for that, they have launched"Tapestry Tuesdays" on their social media sites. The show which is scheduled to open October 7th, is titled Pieter Coecke van Aelst: Tapestry and Design in Renaissance Europe. Between now and then the MET is going to have tapestry tuesdays which highlight tapestry from their collection.

This week's offering can be seen at THIS link.

Screen shot from the MET's website. See further photos HERE.

Dame Elisabeth Murdock
I came across this tapestry quite by accident. I was looking for a tapestry artist Elizabeth Murdock who lives in BC Canada and submitted a shape for the international tapestry project, Fate, Destiny and Self Determination. I came across this instead:
Dame Elisabeth Murdoch
The tapestry of Dame Elisabeth Murdoch AC DBE by the Victorian Tapestry Workshop marked not only the first portrait tapestry for the National Portrait Gallery's collection but was a unique collaborative process and fitting tribute to a remarkable Australian.
Dame Elisabeth is a Founding Member of the Board of Management of the Victorian Tapestry Workshop and has served on committees and boards of many public institutions including the Royal Children's Hospital, the Melbourne International Chamber Music Competition, and the National Gallery of Victoria. She is also the widow of Sir Keith Murdoch and mother of the publisher, Rupert Murdoch.
The tapestry was the first portrait commission for the Victorian Tapestry Workshop. The image is appropriately set in Cruden Farm, Langwarrin where Dame Elisabeth has lovingly tendered the garden for over 65 years. The image was composed by painter Christopher Pyett, adapted on computer by printmaker, Normana Wight and brought alive on the loom by Merrill Dumbrell. Funds were provided by Marilyn Darling for the commission to entry the Portrait Gallery's collection.
Simon Elliott

Thursday, January 23, 2014

More shapes flying in from all over the world

Tommye Scanlin, from Georgia USA
More submissions are arriving daily for the international tapestry project, Fate, Destiny and Self Determination.   How exciting to have these very talented, experienced and well respected tapestry weavers participate in this project. When I first sent Tommye the shape she was assigned to weave her first impression is that the shape resembled the state of Georgia! My response: no coincidences! Tommye is a very active member with the American Tapestry Alliance and she also took a 6 week course at West Dean in tapestry weaving. She chronicled her experiences on her excellent and enviable weaving adventure most certainly.  She teaches weaving in many venues in the USA. To see more of her work and see what she's been up to go to
Debbie Herd, Australia titled her shape: "Grampians Conola"
Rosemary Horton Anzicek, Michigan, USA. This shape is really three shapes attached together. This is how I sent them to Rosemary and this is how she wove them
Torunn Soderberg, Norway

Torunn Soderberg, Norway

Torunn Soderberg, Norway

Torunn Soderberg, Norway
Emma Jo Webster, Scotland
Emma Jo Webster, from Glasgow Scotland. Emma Jo currently works for West Dean tapestry studio at Stirling Castle where a team of 3 weavers are weaving the last of the set 'The Hunt of the Unicorn' which will be hung on site. Emma says: "An orange shape with a 'nod' to the famous Oak trees of Scotland - that used to cover the countryside - James the 4th used up these trees in building his warships - There are a few left in a place called Strathyre Forrest also known as Baleful Woods - where they are trying to expand the oak woods and look after them for posterity. " Emma Jo Webster is reknowned for her colourist abstract weaving and also for her handwoven portraiture. She has a studio based in Glasgow. Her web page is 

Angers, France: 
American Tapestry Alliance
UNTITLED/UNJURIED: small format tapestry 2014. Entry deadline is coming up!
July 8 - August 8, 2014 
URI Feinstein Providence Campus Gallery, Providence, RI
The deadline for entry, which is only your intent to participate, is January 31, 2014. The tapestry is not due until March 31, 2014.Exhibition informationOnline entry.
Download an entry form for mailing.  Questions? Email 
Exhibition Chair: Jan Austin.

ATA Scholarship for Tapestry Study 
Deadline: February 1. This scholarship is for any ATA member who wishes to pursue study in the field of tapestry weaving. The application may be for study in workshops, courses, study with individual tutors or institutions of higher learning. More information and online application.

Will you be in Florida? check out this exhibition 

Friday, January 17, 2014


Bonnie Klatt sent pictures of the progress of weaving her shape. 
The Fate, Destiny and Self Determination/le sort, le destin et l'auto determination project continues to evolve. To date I have received 162 submissions from 22 different countries. You can see the progress of the project on the Facebook page: I recently received news from my sister in France and in it she stated that this project must be all wrapped up by now. Of course, it's far from it. I guess she hasn't seen exactly how tapestry weaving is done and how slow and laborious it is. It will probably be a good 6 months before it is entirely ready for display. The tapestry panel that was recently completed in terms of weaving, is now ready to have us do the 'finishing' processes'. Agota Dolinay did a huge amount of it over the Holiday Season and we are grateful indeed. More work still needs to be done on the finishing, so if you have an hour or two to spare, please come to the Toronto Weaving School (at no charge ) to help us with the finishing. You don't have to know how to weave to do it. You can come Monday and/or Wednesday between 10am-9pm, 255 Royal York Road, 2nd Floor, Toronto.
I associate fate and destiny to some kind of quest. What that quest is, varies from individual to individual. I love to look up definitions of words because it helps me to apprehend the word in greater dimension and depth. and when I looked up quest these are some of the definitions I found.

  • a long and difficult effort to find or do something. (This would definitely apply to tapestry weaving! )
  • an investigation
  • an act or instance of seeking, pursuit
  • a chivalrous enterprise in medieval stories involving an adventurous journey

Bonnie Klatt, Buffulo, New York
Bonnie does mostly liturgical commissions. Her work can be viewed on her Facebook page:
In religion, mythology and literature, a quest usually involves a journey that is required to accomplish a (lofty) goal and is often the central focus of the plot, and usually a symbol or metaphor. Quests appear in the folklore of most cultures and usually require a 'hero' to overcome the great obstacles that are strewn on his/her path. This often includes much travel. 

Christa Weitbrecht, Germany
Recently I was looking at Jean Lurcat's tapestries "Le Chant du Monde", inspired by the Apocalypse tapestries in Angers and where they now hang at the musee Jean Lurcat in Angers, once a hospital for orphaned children. Therese Jarry (France), who submitted a shape for this project a while back, sent me this book as well as another book on the Apocolypse tapestries that also hang in Angers, France.Lurcat definitely fits the 'hero' archetype as found in literature and myth. He traveled extensively throughout his life. According to numerous definitions  a 'hero' describes someone who in the face of danger, adversity, challenges or position of weakness or disadvantage, displays courage and the will to undergo discomforts and/or sacrifices in the effort of obtaining some greater good for others, which is usually cathartic. The 'hero'  also holds exemplary moral beliefs and seeks to personify that in his/her behavior. The word 'hero' originates from the Greek and literally translated meant "protector" and  "defender". In that light, Jean Lurcat clearly stepped into that role for tapestry.
Christa Weitbrecht, Germany
Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces, describes several uniting themes or stages of the hero in a story which are universal, in spite of the vast differences in cultures and language. The 'Hero's Journey', called a monomyth, consists of three separate stages, including the Departure, Initiation and Return. "Within these stages there are several archetypes that the hero or heroine may personify including the call to adventure (which they may initially refuse), supernatural aid, proceeding down a road of trials, achieving a realization about themselves (or an apotheosis), and attaining the freedom to live through their quest or journey." Wikipedia.
In Jungian psychology, the quest is one of seeking wholeness, defined as the "integration of conscious and unconsious components of the psyche) through individuation. Jung identified instinctual behavioral patterns  that he named 'archetypes'. 

And to help you on your 'quest' here are a few inspiring links and resources for you to feed the fire of inspiration and enthusiasm.

North Caroline, USA. Sylvia Hayden and Edith London: Together Again. Durham Arts Council
Angers, France. Artapestry3: Aller-Retour
Rebecca Mezoff reviews a book on tapestry weaving:

The Apocalypse Tapestry of Angers, Liliane Delwasse.

Jean Lurcat: le chant du monde angers. You tube video describing the tapestries:

Tapestry weaving classes continue at the Toronto Weaving School. For more information contact Line Dufour at

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Enthusiasm and Inspiration

Sue Weir, New Zealand. Her work is featured here: 

The enthusiam with which people have embraced this international tapestry project/installation Fate, Destiny and Self Determination/le sort, le destin et l'auto-determination, has exceeded my expectations. More shapes continue to come in from all over the world, the bulk of them are woven tapestry. What is this thing called Enthusiasm? Originally it referred to inspiration or possession by a divine energy (eg God ). In the first English dictionary, enthusiasm was defined as a "vain belief of private revelation". The contemporary meaning of enthusiasm refers more to enjoyment, interest or me a somewhat watered down description of what enthusiasm actually feels like. 
Karen Stevens Australia
Centuries ago, an enthusiast was a person considered to be possessed by a god. It was and still is also used interchangeably with the word Inspiration. At one time it also referred to intense religious fervour, eg a Syrian set of the 4th century were identified as Enthusiasts, who believed that through constant prayer, "ascetic practices and contemplation, man could become inspired by the Holy Spirit". During the 18th century the British employed the term pejoratively for any group that advocated for political or religious causes publicly.
Karen Stevens Australia. Crocheted. Felted.
The Greeks believed that inspiration was equivalent to enthusiasm, which was obtained from the Muses and the Gods. The Norse, Hebrews and Christians, believed that inspiration and enthusiasm was derived from the divine elements and forces. This belief was persistent even in the 18th century with the writings of the philosopher John Locke and Romantic poets (Coleridge and Shelley) who believed that the poets soul was more receptive and attuned to the divine and mystical forces made evident through the results of their inspiration and enthusiasm. That one is suddenly transported beyond one's own mind, and connecting to a force, visions, thoughts, ideas that seem to manifest inexplicably and seems to lift one up above the small and the mundane of everyday life,  is a constant denominator of what it is to be inspired and feel enthusiastic, resembling a religious fervour. That one obtains a 'revelation' also ties it to this spiritual and religious experience.  In many definitions of inspiration over the centuries, it also considered to be a gift that something greater than ourselves gives us.
Karen Stevens Australia. Crocheted.
By the 18th century psychology began to emerge from philosophy with the writings of John Locke who described inspiration as being "a somewhat random but wholly natural association of ideas and sudden unison of thought." He realized that people became practiced in thinking a certain way that enabled them to make connections of what appeared to be disparate things, in other words, hone their abilities at creative thinking, which accounted for greater and lesser insight and inspiration in artists.
Karen Stevens Australia. Felted.
I was surprised to discover that some people think that being creative, inspiration and enthusiasm is only available to a person with a more leisurely life, that is to say that they have no concerns or constraints on their financial situation. Creativity is not selective that way, though, admittedly, it can constrain to what extent one can engage with it, either by restricting one's ability to purchase required equipment and materials, to even limiting the amount of time one can give over to attending to it and producing a certain quality or quantity of work. Given that situation, and having observed what is exhibited in galleries (public and commercial) it does make me wonder if some of our societal systems favour the creative endeavours of those who have financial means. Those with more financial means certainly will have more advantages in that regard. That might be so, but for those who must be creative and live to be inspired and feel enthusiastic each morning when they get up, financial obligation is not an obstacle, even if it means living in a more limited way in other areas of ones life.
Karen Stevens, Austraila. Crochet.

Lori Laberge, NC USA website:

UNTITLED/UNJURIED: small format tapestry 2014 

July 8 - August 8, 2014 
URI Feinstein Providence Campus Gallery, Providence, RI
The deadline for entry, which is only your intent to participate, is January 31, 2014. The tapestry is not due until March 31, 2014.Exhibition informationOnline entryDownload an entry form for mailing.  Questions? Email Exhibition Chair: Jan Austin.

Interweaving Cultures
Peter Gray Museum of Art
CUC Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco
November 22, 2013 - January 2014

ATB 10 
Visions Art Museum
May 2 - July 20, 2014 
Opening reception May 10, 2015
San Diego, CA

Kent State University Museum
September 25, 2014 - January 4, 2015  
Opening reception September 25, 2014
Kent, OH

February 6 - April 18, 2015 
Opening reception February 6, 2015
Omaha, NE