I work as a tapestry weaver and make tapestries using the Gobelins style of weaving on an upright loom. I work on both commissioned pieces and for exhibitions. The tapestries are warped up with cotton warps of varying thickness depending on the intricacy of the design to be woven. The weft yarns are then woven to create the image, covering the warp threads in small sections at a time. This method of weaving has remained unchanged for centuries but the interpretation of it can be individual and very contemporary.
I usually begin with some sketches and use these as the basis for the finished design to be woven. When I have decided on the finished size for the tapestry I do a ‘cartoon’ which is an outline drawing of the image in the finished size. This hangs behind the warps for reference. Tapestries can be made using a wide variety of materials and yarns. I tend to use a lot of Shetland wool, which is ideal for mixing a varied colour palette. I also use cotton, linen and silk. The detail in the image to be woven dictates how fine the warp and weft should be but how it should be interpreted is up to me as the artist.
I trained at Edinburgh College of Art and graduated in 1981 with a first class BA with Hons followed by a postgraduate year in 1982. I felt that I had found my medium in tapestry, maybe it was something to do with growing up in the Shetland Isles, surrounded by examples of real craftsmanship such as knitting and boat building. I have been influenced by examples of these traditional crafts and a lot of the inspiration for my work comes from looking at these skills and interpreting them in a new way.
The idea of preserving what is at risk of being lost in the modern world has come to form a significant basis of much of my work. More recently I have been focusing on plants. I think that we need to rethink our attitude to green spaces both from an aesthetic point of view and a practical one.
Year Established: 1983 and Shetland Tapestry Studio, 2011
First Class BA Hons in Tapestry from Edinburgh College of Art
Postgraduate Diploma from Edinburgh College of Art
Shetland Museum, Lerwick, Shetland
Lerwick Town Hall, Shetland
Shetland Hotel, Lerwick, Shetland
Solicitors office, Edinburgh
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