In 2012, Dovecot Studios celebrates 100 years of contemporary tapestry with a year of events, exhibitions and collaborations.
Based on Infirmary Street in Edinburgh, Dovecot Studios is one of the world's leading tapestry studios and an international centre for tapestry as a contemporary art form.
Dovecot Studios were originally founded in 1912 by the Marquess of Bute, a patron of the arts. The first weavers came from William Morris’s Merton Abbey workshop and the first commission was for a series of tapestries for the Marquess’s own home, at Mount Stuart on the island of Bute.
Dovecot Studios has constantly evolved since it was established. Initial Arts and Crafts ideals developed into a more proactive engagement with modernism from the 1950s, when designs came from leading British artists such as Graham Sutherland, Henry Moore, Stanley Spencer, Cecil Beaton and John Piper. In the 1960s international ambition partnered a quest for experimentation, as characterised by collaborations with artists such as Eduardo Paolozzi, David Hockney, Robert Motherwell and Louise Nevelson.
Dovecot Studios were re-established in 2001 with the financial support and backing of Elizabeth and Alastair Salvesen. In 2008 Dovecot completed a £12million refurbishment of Edinburgh’s oldest public baths on Infirmary Street into workshop and gallery spaces. The building is also home to the Dovecot Foundation which supports the work of the studios and a programme of cross-discipline exhibitions and events.
Under the direction of David Weir, Dovecot’s weavers continue to work to commission, producing tapestry and tufted rugs for private and public collections.
Working in partnership with the finest innovative artists and makers has been, and actively remains, key to Dovecot's unique position. Dovecot’s influence continues today and has extended to workshops as far apart as the Australian Tapestry Workshop in Melbourne and Pangnirtung Tapestry Studios on Baffin Island.
Dovecot tapestries can be found in private and international museum collections worldwide, including the Victoria and Albert Museum, Vancouver Art Gallery and Boston Museum of Fine Arts. The largest tapestry ever to have been woven in the UK was created by Dovecot weavers in collaboration with the artist R B Kitaj, and now hangs in The British Library in London.
To celebrate Dovecot’s Centenary, an innovative programme of public events and exhibitions, commissions and new works has been developed. This includes a major exhibition, a new illustrated book, a site specific performance written by Alexander McCall Smith and composed by Tom Cunningham as well as a number of specially commissioned works from some of the world’s most acclaimed artists including Victoria Crowe, Peter Saville and Sir Peter Blake.
This is the first major Dovecot tapestry exhibition to be presented in Scotland for over thirty years. Curated by art historian Dr Elizabeth Cumming, it is presented across all three of Dovecot’s public gallery spaces. The exhibition features over 60 tapestries, rugs and rarely seen works on loan from major museums and private collections in America and Britain. The exhibition includes work by David Hockney, Paul Gauguin Elizabeth Blackadder, Sir Peter Blake, Edward Wadsworth, Cecil Beaton, Graham Sutherland, Eduardo Paolozzi, Jankel Adler and Claire Barclay amongst others.
Following the Edinburgh run of Weaving The Century: Tapestry from Dovecot Studios 1912-2012, the exhibition will embark on a UK tour and forms part of the Year of Creative Scotland and the Edinburgh Art Festival.
Weaving the Century runs until 07 October 2012.
This major new publication The Art of Modern Tapestry: Dovecot Studios since 1912 celebrates the work of Dovecot Studios, since its foundation. The artistic value, nature and identity of modern tapestry are explored through images, essays and the commentaries of weavers, artists and patrons. Edited by Dr Elizabeth Cumming, with an introductory essay by Dovecot Director David Weir, The Art of Modern Tapestry offers the definitive account of one of the world's most innovative centres of textile-art production.
This symposium takes place on 26 September 2012 at Dovecot Studios. Interweaving – Future Trends in Making is Dovecot’s Symposium for makers, doers and thinkers to come together to discuss and develop new practice and thinking.
The world of craft and making has been going through all manner of change and profile in these last couple of years. The quality of work, breadth of engagement and cross-artform collaborations have brought the importance of making to the fore of contemporary artistic practice.
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