The Looms and the Art of Ulrika Leander

Mid-Shore Arts: The Looms and Art of Ulrika Leander

The art world has just a few very special heros who take it upon themselves to work in mediums requiring intense intricacy, precision, and endless patience to complete their work. And nowhere else can one find that special breed stand out more than those who chose the art of tapestry for their artistic expression.

And one can officially include the Mid-Shore’s Ulrika Leander in that select group.

Starting at the age of thirteen in her native Sweden, Ulrika has become one of the great masters of the loom with her intentionally beautiful and large tapestries created in her generous studio a short walk from the Oxford-Bellevue Ferry.

Like clockwork, Ulrika works every day in front of one of her three custom-built looms to produce art that is proudly hung in museums and private homes throughout the world. With a typical project taking well over six months to complete, Leander has found a particular zone to operate in as she plots along a single line of fiber during a day’s work.

In her Spy interview a few weeks ago, she talks about this unique, centuries-old practice, and how she enjoys the special challenges that come with the making one-of-a-kind tapestries.

This video is approximately four minutes in length. For more information on Ulrika Leander work and studio, please go here.

Butterfly tapestry

In the middle of the winter it’s quite lovely to weave a tapestry reminding you about summertime. This tapestry is woven from the side using a very complex technique. The 4th image shows the design in the correct direction. Finished, the tapestry will measure about 48 ins high and 72 ins wide. I started the tapestry in November 2016 and I estimate that the weaving process will take me through late spring. The tapestry will be available for sale when completed.

Contemporary Tapestry Weaving – tapestry@goeaston.net

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Architecture and tapestry

Woven space: Architecture and tapestry

Click to enlarge

<i>Homage to CPE Bach</i>, 2003, designed by Jørn Utzon, woven by Cheryl Thornton, Pamela Joyce, Milena Paplinska, Chris Cochius, 2.67 x 14.02m, wool, cotton, Sydney Opera House

Homage to CPE Bach, 2003, designed by Jørn Utzon, woven by Cheryl Thornton, Pamela Joyce, Milena Paplinska, Chris Cochius, 2.67 x 14.02m, wool, cotton, Sydney Opera House Image: John Gollings

An upcoming design competition promises to reinvigorate the connection between architecture and textile art, and hence human experience and the built environment.

There is a long-standing historical connection between architectural space and textile art, and in particular, tapestry. Rare tapestry remnants have been found in Greece dating from the 3rd century BC and the tapestry-laden walls of European museums and palaces are very familiar to us. The longevity of this art form over the centuries makes my 15-year connection with it via the Australian Tapestry Workshop (ATW) pale into insignificance. Time is not the relevant metric, however, when measuring the alchemy that occurs in the creation of tapestry—this is timeless.

Significant wall hangings have been created around the world and used in a myriad of configurations for functional, decorative, celebratory and didactic purposes, with a clear knowing of their ‘other’ underlying capacity to modify thermal and acoustic conditions within interior built space. Tapestries have ranged from monumental formats in great public and private buildings down to small-scale intimate works for personal enjoyment. Often underpinned by great wealth, they have been traded and presented as gifts to leaders for hundreds of years across countries and societies. They show enormous scope, having been used for traditional designs employing historical and mythical themes, to being utilised as a preferred medium by avant-garde architects and artists at the beginnings of the modern movement in Europe.

From their earliest history to the full integration of textiles into the comprehensive design program of the Bauhaus in Germany under Walter Gropius (1919-28) and later under Mies van der Rohe (1930-33), tapestries have been linked intimately with built space and its creation. One only has to think of the great architect Le Corbusier and his integration of textiles with architecture, including his own masterfully self-designed epic tapestries, to understand the significance of placement in architectural space.

William Morris in the 19th century and the contemporary French artist Jean Lurcat paved a way for others to follow, including internationally influential artists such as Picasso, Calder, Leger and Miro, who used the mediums of tapestry and textile as key platforms for their work.


Homage to CPE Bach, 2003, designed by Jørn Utzon, woven by Cheryl Thornton, Pamela Joyce, Milena Paplinska, Chris Cochius, 2.67 x 14.02m, wool, cotton, Sydney Opera House Image:  John Gollings

A point to note is that the realisation of the two great tapestries for new Parliament House and the Sydney Opera House came via collaboration with the ATW. In fact, most of the ATW tapestries are designed with a specific location in mind, and architectural considerations often have a great effect on the designing artists and the weavers when they create a commissioned work. In our Australian context, the architect and enthusiastic champion of integrated art, Aldo Giurgola of Mitchell Giurgola Thorpe, included the monumental Arthur Boyd tapestry Untitled (Shoalhaven Landscape) in the new Parliament House in Canberra. Harry Seidler, European émigré and pioneer Australian modernist architect, included great tapestry works in his local buildings. Jørn Utzon, responsible for the world-acclaimed Sydney Opera House, designed his tapestry Homage to CPE Bach for the Utzon Room in that same building.

Ainsley Murray in her marvelous review of an installation by Sandra Selig at the MCA in 2004 (Artlink magazine vol. 25, #1) wrote perceptively and provocatively about architecture and intervention:

“Architecture has long since surrendered the tactile in favour of grander visions. Processes of digitisation, prefabrication and mechanisation have lead to the widespread abandonment of the human hand in architectural practice, and private eccentricities are now buried, smoothed over with flatter, more uniform design solutions. Recalcitrant fingerprints and other imperfections have dissolved from all but the vernacular and indigenous architecture of Australasia. The question is, how might we reconsider our relationship with built matter to restore a direct connection with human experience? I suspect the clues lie not in architecture, but in contemporary installation.”

An upcoming design competition promoted by the ATW will reinvigorate this connection between architectural built-form and textile art. It will help to build an awareness of tapestry as a relevant medium that sits comfortably within the materiality of contemporary architectural thinking, providing another tool that architects can draw on in response to this increasingly complex and challenging world.

As Ainsley Murray concluded in her article: “Perhaps the handmade in architecture is nothing to do with the physical character of buildings, but entirely to do with how we engage with them in our enlivened and repetitious gestures. Not only is architecture rethought, but the relationship between being and building reconsidered.”

Hear, hear.

Corbusier Tapestry

Le Corbusier Tapestry Unveiled at the Sydney Opera House, 58 Years After Commission

Earlier this week, fifty-eight years after it was commissioned, a seventy-square-foot wool tapestry by Le Corbusier was finally installed at the Sydney Opera House. The work was originally commissioned by the architect who designed the iconic waterfront opera house, Jørn Utzon. At that time Utzon was an unknown and Le Corbusier, at the height of his career, rarely collaborated with other architects, reports Caroline Taïx, Le Monde’s Sydney-based correspondent

In 1960, Le Corbusier delivered the red and black tapestry titled Les Dés Sont Jetés (The Dice Are Cast), but, as the opera was still under construction, Utzon kept it in his home in Denmark. Then, in 1965 amidst construction delays, budget problems, and creative differences, Utzon left the project. In 1973 when the opera finally opened, neither the architect nor the tapestry went to Sydney.

Utzon died in 2008 and The Dice Are Cast was sold at as part of an auction of his collection last year. It was purchased more than $300,000 by donors to the Sydney Opera.

What is Tapestry

Tapestry is one of the oldest forms of woven textiles. The techniques used have remained the same for centuries. Remnants of tapestries woven in ancient Egypt have been dated as far back as 3000BC.

In the Middle Ages master weavers’ studios designed and wove great, colorful tapestries for wealthy clients. In the Renaissance artists such as Raphael were commissioned to produce cartoons for studios to copy, giving weavers less freedom of interpretation. Surviving tapestries from these times can still be seen, though they sometimes look rather dull and predominantly beige, blue and red. That’s because vibrant yellows, greens, purples and browns have disappeared as the dyes used have faded away.

Today, tapestry weaving is dominated by individual weavers producing their own designs, though a few studios where large tapestries are woven from artists’ cartoons still survive. Traditional fibers (wool, silk and linen) continue to be used, together with cotton and other more modern materials.

What defines a tapestry?

 The following define a tapestry

 1 cm tick Tapestries are hand woven on a loom. Tapestry looms are either vertical (high warp) or horizontal (low warp). 
 1 cm tick The design is formed by the weft (horizontal) threads, which are tightly packed to cover the warp (vertical) threads. The warp threads are normally completely covered so play no part in the design. This is known as ‘weft facing’. 
 1 cm tick Each color of weft is worked only in its own section of the design, so there are many different wefts on the go at any one time. Unlike other types of weaving, it is rare for the weft to run across the entire width of the piece. This is known as ‘discontinuous weft’ as shown in the diagram.
woven_tapestry
 1 cm tick Tapestries are usually made to hang on a wall (though rugs, cushion covers and three-dimensional installations can also be made). 

 

What’s not tapestry?

Fine tapestries take a long time to weave, so have long been rare and expensive. Perhaps because of this, the term ‘tapestry’ has been purloined by other techniques to produce textiles and wall hangings, often resembling tapestry but at a much lower cost. Common culprits are:

    • ‘Tapestry’ chair-backs, screens, cushions etc., including those sold in kit form.
      Needlepoint, canvas-work, wool-work (a design is inked onto canvas or a similar fabric, then stitched with a needle to create the patterns and pictures)

 

    • The 11th Century Bayeux ‘Tapestry’, The Quaker ‘Tapestry’ (completed 1989) and The Great ‘Tapestry’ of Scotland (completed in 2013).
      These are embroidered wall-hangings.

 

    • Grayson Perry’s Walthamstow ‘Tapestry’ and the “The Vanity of Small Differences” series of six ‘tapestries’ – These are computer-controlled jacquard weaving (the design is formed by intricately-colored warp AND weft threads)

 

  • Large-scale ‘tapestry’ wall hangings and installations produced by various fibre-artistsThese can be a mix of any/all of (non-tapestry) weaving, threading, knotting, felting and embroidery

How to recognize a tapestry

On any tapestry you’ll see characteristic lines of ridges where the weft threads go over the warp threads. This tells you it’s a genuine woven tapestry. During weaving, and sometimes when completed and hung, these lines of ridges run vertically from the top to the bottom of the tapestry.

But the lines of ridges may run horizontally. This is because tapestries, especially large ones, are often woven so that the warps will be horizontal when hung. This distributes the weight of the tapestry better and prevents the wefts sliding down the warps with time (as happened with the Christ in Glory tapestry at Coventry Cathedral). When hung like this, the design has to be woven sideways on.

 

 

 

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ctw-tapestry.com

Foundry Art Centre, St. Charles, MO – “IMPACT”, March 18-April 29, 2016 – “The Juror’s Choice Award”

Before Time high res

 The tapestry “Before Time” received the “Juror’s Choice Award” in the exhibit “Impact”.
 ctw-tapestry.com

impact

March 18 – April 29, 2016

OPENING RECEPTION | MARCH 18, 6 – 8 PM | FREE

THE EXHIBITION

“Impact” explores the motivations of the artist to create. We ask the artist to answer through their artwork, “What inspires you? Who or what is the driving force behind your need to create? What has left an impression on you that lead you to become the artist you are today?” Whether it is a mentor, an event, a concept, or a personal revelation, this exhibition will examine the many avenues that impact the contemporary artist.

ACCEPTED ARTISTS

Ann Aurbach, Darcy Berg, Joyce Blunk, Matthew Boonstra, Christine Casten, Dion Dion, Emily Dvorin, Michael Fischerkeller, Morris Fletcher, Marni Gable, Jennifer Halli, Michelle Hamilton, Lisa Hinrichs, Mercedes Jelinek, Kris Kessinger, Ruth Kolker, Ulrika Leander, Heather Macali, Melissa McCutcheon, Ed McKay, Rachel Meginnes, Caitlin Metz, Linda Mueller, William Neukomm, Sara Nordling, Elizabeth Odiorne, Geoffrey Parker, Judith Repke, Rachel Santel, Carolyn Schlueter, Elizabeth Sharpe, Suzanne Sidebottom, Samuel Strecker, Michelle Streiff, Brittany Taylor, Ben Underwood, Barbara Watler, Jerry Walters, Teresa Wang, Peggy Wyman, and David Yates.

Juror

Jane Sauer

Jane Sauer is a studio artist, juror, lecturer, curator and former owner of Jane Sauer Gallery in Santa Fe, NM. She served as Chair of the American Craft Council 1997-2000, besides serving on numerous other art related boards,  and is currently the owner of Sauer Art Consultants.

Sauer’s woven sculptures often consist of pairs or small groups and explore human relationships, particularly those in her own life. Her list of honors includes two NEA grants and taking first place at the Fourth International Exhibit of Miniature Textiles at the British Crafts Centre in London. Her work is in the permanent collections of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, DC, the Saint Louis Art Museum, the American Craft Museum in New York, the Detroit Institute of Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford, Connecticut.

Black Night (in 3 parts), Jane Sauer

Concurrence, Jane Sauer

Elaborate Layers, Jane Sauer

Foundry Art Centre

520 N. Main Center

St. Charles, MO 63301

636-255-0270

Tapestry

ANTIQUES; Le Corbusier Saw Tapestry As Part of Art

”The destiny of the tapestry of today emerges: it becomes the mural of the modern age,” Le Corbusier wrote in his essay ”Tapestries: Nomadic Murals.” The Swiss-born Modernist architect, theoretician, painter, sculptor and writer (1887-1965) is not particularly known for his tapestries, but he did many drawings for them and clearly felt tapestries were works of art.

Many 20th-century architects and artists, including Picasso, Matisse and Braque, liked having their designs translated into woven wool tapestries, and Miró’s 35-foot-wide 1974 tapestry hung in the World Trade Center until its destruction.

Corbusier made at least 27 tapestry drawings, known as cartoons, from 1936 to 1965, La Fondation Le Corbusier in Paris says. Beginning in 1949, Corbusier began collaborating with a colleague, Pierre Baudouin, to translate his paintings and drawings into tapestries at the Pinton workshops in Felletin, France (next door to the city of Aubusson, another longtime weaving center). In 1961 Corbusier also collaborated with the weavers of Firminy, near Lyon, to have 765 square yards of tapestry made for the Palace of Justice in Chandigarh, India.

Corbusier tapestries do not turn up often, but a few are for sale. A second-generation antique carpet and tapestry dealer, Eddy Keshishian, at 24 West 57th Street, has one that he said ”is almost brand new.” He had planned to show it this weekend at the International Art and Design Fair at the Seventh Regiment Armory, which was canceled because the National Guard is using the armory.

Titled ”La Licorne Passe sur la Mer,” the tapestry was made by Pinton about 1962. It is an abstract design in cherry red, teal blue, white, gray and yellow that depicts women and a unicorn on the sea. It was taken from a drawing for an enamel work, and the white vertical line from that drawing was incorporated into the tapestry.

It is signed by the artist and the workshop and is 8 feet 8 inches high and 11 feet 7 inches wide. The price is $100,000. ”It is part of an edition of six,” Mr. Keshishian said. ”Two were held back by the workshop; one for the artist and one for Pinton. This is No. 4.”

He said a somewhat similar tapestry was shown in a 1992 show, ”Le Corbusier Domestique,” at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard, Corbusier’s only building in North America. The building was completed in 1963, the year Harvard acquired its own Corbusier tapestry, ”La Femme et le Moineau” (”Woman With Sparrow”). It was woven at Pinton in 1957 and was later acquired by the center, where it still hangs.

Another Corbusier tapestry is at the Jane Kahan Gallery, 922 Madison Avenue, at 73rd Street. Titled ”Le Canapé” (”The Sofa”), it depicts an abstract figure lying on a couch. It is blue, wine red, beige and black, and measures 70 by 98 inches. Ms. Kahan said it was woven by Pinton after an image done in 1950; it bears the artist’s name and the title and is the first artist’s proof.

Mrs. Kahan added that she had access to seven other Corbusier tapestries. ”Corbusier tapestries are not as rare as Mirós,” she said. She has a Miró ”Night Creature” tapestry from the 1970’s that is 90 inches high by 120 inches wide.

Modern tapestries became popular between the world wars. ”In the 1920’s there was great cooperation between weavers and imaginative artists,” said Charles Fuller, the owner of L’Art de Vivre at 978 Lexington Avenue, at 71st Street, which sells modern tapestries. ”Weaving artists were in great demand. You see tapestries used for upholstery, as wall hangings and as special commissions for ocean liners.”

In the 1970’s the popularity of modern tapestries seems to have peaked. ”Interest in them waned in the 1970’s,” said Beatrix Medinger, the managing director of Viart, a Manhattan concern that buys art and manages collections for corporations. ”Too many were made, and tapestries became a bastardized form of art.”

Linda Parry, the head of the textiles department at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, added: ”A number of French ateliers were doing copies of paintings rather than tapestries conceived as tapestries. The whole concept behind them is different.”

Today, many dealers in antique tapestries avoid modern examples. ”Dealers feel that 20th-century tapestries are licensing adaptations, not tapestries made as tapestries,” said Titi Halle, owner of the Cora Ginsburg textiles gallery in New York. ”These dealers do not see them as reflections of great art.”

Nonetheless, the pendulum may be swinging back. ”In the last few years we’ve become a center for fine tapestries because no one else is doing it,” Ms. Kahan said.

After she visited some French weaving workshops, ”I realized it’s a very important art form and more accessible than others,” she added. ”It’s an important medium on its own.”

Ms. Parry, referring to contemporary studios like the Victorian Tapestry Workshop in Melbourne and the International Tapestry Network in Anchorage, said, ”In recent years, some tapestries have been accepted within the industry as art.”

Both the ancient Egyptians and the Incas buried their dead in tapestry cloth. Some scholars say the walls of the Parthenon were originally covered with tapestries. The Coptics made tapestries from the fourth to eighth centuries.

In the Middle Ages, European monasteries and convents became centers of tapestry weaving. By the late 15th century, tapestries had become status symbols among the aristocracy. Nobles moving from castle to castle took their tapestries with them, to show them off and to use them to insulate their chilly stone castles. Henry VIII reportedly had 2,000 tapestries in 17 royal residences.

In France, Aubusson became an important weaving center in 1662, when Louis XIV’s finance minister, Jean Baptiste Colbert, designated the city’s workshops ”a royal manufacturer.” In 1663 Colbert imported Flemish weavers to start Les Gobelins in Paris. Some 800 artisans were employed weaving tapestries for the royal court there, and Louis XIV supposedly had 2,155 Gobelins when he died.

France’s tapestry workshops thrived until the French Revolution, when they collapsed from the lack of state support. The Aubusson workshops were not revived until the 19th century, and then they simply copied Renaissance designs.

This situation changed in the 1920’s, when artists like Picasso and Braque got into the act. They did not consider tapestries an inferior art; in fact, they exhibited their tapestries alongside the paintings that inspired them.

In the 1930’s French artists like the Cubist painter Georges Valmier produced cartoons for tapestries. L’Art de Vivre currently has an abstract Valmier tapestry dated 1930 in black, brown and beige. It costs $15,000.

In Aubusson, ”I was asked to bring a new spirit, expressing the spirit of the age,” Corbusier wrote in his essay. He continued, ”Tapestries, drawings, paintings, sculptures, books, houses and city plans are, in my personal case, one and the same manifestation of stimulating harmony at the breast of a new mechanical society.”