Current Exchanges: Dovecot and the Australian Tapestry Workshop
5 July to 27 September 2014
Celebrating the continuing connections between the Australian Tapestry Workshop, Melbourne, and
Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh, the exhibition Current Exchanges brings together recent work from
Although geographically separate, both share a similar philosophy of working closely with
contemporary artists to produce tapestries at the cutting edge of artistic practice. The links between
the studios date back to the founding of the Australian Tapestry Workshop in 1976: Dovecot’s
Artistic Director, Archie Brennan, advised on the structure and feasibility of the new antipodean
enterprise. Since then the exchanges of weavers and ideas have continued. This year marks the
beginning of another cycle of such interchanges between Melbourne and Edinburgh, through an
exchange between weavers from the two studios funded by Creative Scotland’s Creative Futures
Programme. The international exchange programme between Dovecot Studios and the Australian
Tapestry Workshop is designed to raise the profile of contemporary tapestry weaving by fostering
talent, building relationships and sharing knowledge. By spending an extended period in the host
country, weavers engage both with familiar and with new working practices, and immerse
themselves in the local arts and cultural community. Junior Weaver, Freya Sewell completed her
residency at the Australian Tapestry Workshop in early 2014; a weaver from Melbourne will travel to
Dovecot in the autumn.
The tapestries and rugs in this Current Exchanges exhibition range in price from approximately
£4,000 to £60,000. Most woven and hand-tufted Dovecot textile pieces are created in response to a
request from a private collector or public commissioner. The tapestry on the loom throughout the
duration of this exhibition is the result of a collaboration between artist Magne Furuholmen and
Dovecot. The Glass Onion design that the weavers are referring to is a woodblock print created
specifically by Furuholmen, inspired by musical terminology and Beatles song lyrics. A print from this
series will feature in the exhibition, while visitors are also able to view the weavers working on the
tapestry from the Balcony.
Tapestries from Melbourne and Edinburgh are hung together on the walls overlooking the Weaving
Floor at Dovecot – a survey of practice from both institutions spanning a decade. Artists include
Nusra Latif Queneshi, Alan Davie, Anamarari Brown, William Crozier, Brent Harris, Peter Saville,
Adrian Wiszniewski, Sangetta Sandreager and Arlene TextaQueen. In recognition of Dovecot’s
historic association with the inception of Australian Tapestry Workshop and in this year of the
Commonwealth Games, Archie Brennan’s Meadowbank Stadium tapestry also has pride of place.
Current Exchanges: Dovecot and the Australian Tapestry Workshop is curated by freelance historic
fashion and textile curator, researcher, writer and editor Ben Divall. His field of research includes
textile trade and interaction, both intra-Asian and between Europe and Asia; interiors, architecture,
decorative arts and authenticity; Asian textiles, particularly South and Southeast Asian;
contemporary textiles; and curatorial practices. Divall has curated previous exhibitions at Dovecot
including Heirlooms in 2011 and Fleece to Fibre in 2013.
On Saturday 2 August from 12.30pm to 1.30pm Dovecot will host an event: David Weir and Antonia
Syme in Conversation, to which all press are invited. Directors of two contemporary tapestry studios
with a longstanding alliance, come together to converse about the history and cultural exchanges
between Dovecot Studios and Australian Tapestry Workshop. To reserve a place, please book at
www.dovecotstudios.com once advertised.
On Wednesday 13 August from 6.30pm to 7.30pm Dovecot will host and event: Current Exchanges
Curator’s Tour, to which all press are invited. Ben Divall, curator of Current Exchanges for Dovecot,
will talk about the exhibition and the tapestries. To reserve a place, please book at
www.dovecotstudios.com once advertised.
Current Exchanges: Dovecot and the Australian Tapestry Workshop exhibition is part of the
Edinburgh Art Festival 2014 programme.
Craigie Aitchison RA
Paintings, etching and tapestries
Timothy Taylor Gallery and Dovecot Studios present a selected showcase of paintings and etchings
from the estate of Craigie Aitchsion CBE RSA RA (1926-2009), alongside tapestries created by the
Studios in collaboration with the artist, from 5 July to 27 September 2014.
The Aitchison selection highlights the recurring themes of the artist’s work including the Crucifixion
and Bedlington terriers. Aitchison depicted the Crucifixion in his artwork from the 1950s, when his
tutor at The Slade suggested that the subject was “too serious” for him, thus prompting him to
tackle it regularly. Although not pious, Aitchsion was drawn to the spirit and glamour of Catholicism.
One of the tapestry miniatures featured in this show, is a detail recreated in weave from a large
commissioned painting of the same subject. Resolving the design with Dovecot’s weavers, Aitchison
felt that the detail chosen particularly suited the medium of tapestry. This was one of a number of
tapestries made with Aitchison and is the only tapestry design which Aitchison made using this
central theme in his work. It is an open edition and he bought one for his own collection.
Aitchison used a distinctive Mediterranean palette. His expressive ‘cut-out’ iconographic figures and
objects set against a bright coloured background are redolent of the simple clarity of the Trecento
and Quattrocento which he often referred to. Born in Edinburgh in 1926, Aitchison enrolled at the
Slade School of Art in 1952. His work was soon recognised with a solo show at Beaux Arts Gallery in
1956. His reputation grew and this was followed by a solo show at Marlborough Fine Art in 1968, a
retrospective at the Serpentine in 1981, a retrospective at GoMA in Glasgow in 1996 and a solo show
at the Royal Academy in 2003. He was elected a Royal Academician in 1988, was awarded the
inaugural Jerwood Prize in 1994 and in 1999 was awarded a CBE for his contribution to British Art.
Aitchison died in London in December 2009. Timothy Taylor Gallery is the representative of his
More information and prices for the Craigie Aitchison works and how to commission a tapestry, can
be obtained from Dovecot.
Notes to editors
1. Founded in 2004, Edinburgh Art Festival is the UK's largest annual celebration of visual art.
Uniquely, the festival offers the chance to experience the best contemporary Scottish artists
in the context of exhibitions of the most important international artists and movements of
the 20th Century and historical periods. Attracting over 250,000 visitors each year, Edinburgh
Art Festival brings together the capital’s leading galleries, museums and artist-run spaces,
alongside new public art commissions by established and emerging artists and an innovative
programme of special events. The vast majority of the festival is free to attend. Further
details at www.edinburghartfestival.com
2. The Glass Onion tapestry will take 4 months to weave and will measure 2 x 1.5 metres. For
more information, images and a press release relating to this project please contact
Press release image:
William Crozier (1930-2011)
Easter Day, 2009
Woven by Douglas Grierson, David Cochrane and Naomi Robertson, Dovecot Studios
Wool and cotton, 244 cm x 183 cm
Image courtesy Dovecot Studios
Dovecot is a specialist tapestry studios at the heart of a landmark centre for contemporary art,
craft and design based in the centre of Edinburgh.
In August 2008 Dovecot moved to new workshops in a renovated Victorian Swimming Baths on
Infirmary Street in Edinburgh’s Old Town. As well as providing a permanent home for Dovecot’s
tapestry studio, the building also houses two stunning gallery spaces which deliver an
international programme of exhibitions exploring contemporary art, craft and design. Events,
gallery and meeting space rental, café and shop all contribute to making Dovecot a dynamic
creative centre in the city.
Dovecot Studios was originally established in 1912 by the Marquess of Bute; the two founding
weavers from William Morris’ renowned tapestry workshops at Merton Abbey passing on their
skills to successive generations of weavers through a formal apprenticeship scheme that
Dovecot’s tapestry studios continue to work to commission, producing tapestries and tufted rugs
for private and public collectors working in collaboration with leading international artists,
designers, curators, architects and specialist interior designers. Recent commissions and projects
include work with Peter Blake, Peter Saville, Victoria Crowe, Than Clarke, Nicholas Party and
Although Dovecot has evolved through the decades, the studios remain true to William Morris’
ethos of the artist craftsman and unique in its highly creative collaboration between artist,
weaver and commissioner: a potent dialogue that is special to each project, where human
interaction and the hand-made combine to create outstanding tapestry. The list of artists with
whom and for whom the studios worked and continue to work is extraordinarily rich: the British
Library, Scottish Opera, National Museums of Scotland, Kings College Cambridge, PepsiCo’s HQ in
New York, are amongst some of the many collections in which Dovecot tapestry now hangs. The
Dovecot Foundation, a not for profit organisation, has been established to continue to support
and develop the skills of the studios through apprenticeship and an evolving programme of
collaborations with both established and emerging artists and designers.
About Australian Tapestry Workshop
Established in 1976, the Australian Tapestry Workshop is the only tapestry studio of its kind in
Australia. Using the same techniques employed in Europe since the 15th century, the Australian
Tapestry Workshop's skilled weavers work with artists from Australia and overseas, to produce
tapestries that are known for their vibrancy, technical accomplishment and inventive
interpretation. Since its inception, the Workshop's philosophy has been to employ weavers trained
as artists to enable close collaboration with the artists whose work they are interpreting. Many
notable Australian and international artists have collaborated with the Workshop's weavers over the
years including Arthur Boyd, Jon Cattapan, John Olsen, Jorn Utzon, David Noonan and Sally Smart.
To date, the Workshop has created more than 400 tapestries ranging from palm-size to
monumental. They are woven using the finest Australian wool, which is dyed onsite forming
a unique palette of 370 colours. These works hang in significant public and private collections
around the world.
For exhibition enquiries: KateGrenyer@dovecotstudios.com
For press information and further images:
Lizzie Cowan, Marketing Coordinator
Tel: 0131 550 3660
Please see Dropbox link here to:
Current Exchanges images and image credits
Magne Furuholmen press release
Summer and Craigie Aitchison private view invites
10 Infirmary Street
Tel: 0131 550 3660