The Art of Modern Tapestry: Dovecot Studios since 1912 by Dr Elizabeth Cumming covers the history of Dovecot Studios from its Arts & Crafts beginnings to today, 2012, its centenary year.
The book accompanies a major exhibition, Weaving The Century: Tapestry from Dovecot Studios 1912-2012, currently being held at Dovecot Studios (until 7 October 2012).
Since 2009, the Studios have been housed in a most magnificent residence; Victorian swimming baths, the first to be built in Edinburgh.
Many of the tapestries produced by the weavers at Dovecot have been collaborations with painters & sculptors – a veritable Who’s Who of the modern art world – David Hockney, Stanley Spencer, Henry Moore, Eduardo Paolozzi, John Piper, Cecil Beaton, Patrick Caulfield…
Many of these tapestries have been examples of fine art in themselves – including this breathtaking piece, Sunset over Corrib, designed by Douglas Grierson. It look like an impressionist painting… or cubist masterpiece!
A glance at the Studio’s commissioners & collectors give us much insight into the regard held for the excellence of their work. They produced coats of arms for HM Queen Elizabeth and Liberty; are in the permanent collections of museums & galleries including the V&A, Edinburgh Museums and Galleries, National Museum of Scotland, Vancouver Art Gallery, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; have been commissioned by global organisations such as Rolls Royce, BP, IBM, London Stock Exchange; and have work that hangs on the walls of cathedrals: (Coventry, Canterbury, Glasgow), universities: (Oxford, Cambridge, Manchester, Sussex, Leicester) and banks: (Deutsche Bank, Santander, Chase Manhattan).
In an effort to diversify and become more commercial, printed tiles and textiles were introduced at Dovecot. Margaret Stewart’s bird cushion cover from the 1950s looks so contemporary!
The animal kingdom has been a recurring theme in Dovecot tapestries. Graham Sutherland’s Wading Birds (above) and Edward Bawden’s Farming (below) are two of our favourites.
The book provides an in depth history of the Studios, The author has mined Dovecot’s archive and has uncovered &shared many gems. There are insightful interviews with weavers past & present, collaborating artists, commissioners and academics.
[Many thanks to Lund Humphries for the review copy]