Date of this Version
In Approaching Textiles, Varying Viewpoints: Proceedings of the Seventh Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2000
This paper considers the relation between painting and contemporary tapestry. I will be asking the question: does the translation of a painting into a tapestry accomplish something more, categorically, than would the painting on its own? As we will see, this question suggests another, larger one: did tapestry emerge in the twentieth century as an authentic, original artform in its own right?
For years tapestry was considered a mere decorative accessory to painting, in part, because the artist, the designer, did not participate directly in its actual production. In an attempt to redress this prejudice, a model of collaboration between artist and weaver evolved during the last century. This collaboration put the weaver on equal footing with the artist in the interpretive process. Now we may ask, how successful has that collaboration been? And moreover, has tapestry weaving changed significantly as a result? To address these general questions more specifically, I will focus on one workshop, the Victorian Tapestry Workshop (or VTW) in Melbourne, Australia.