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Manhattan: An exhibition of hand woven tapestry by two master weavers


Katharine Swailes and Caron Penney will be exhibiting “Tirra Lirra”, courtesy of Gillian Ayres, Alan Cristea Gallery alongside the Manhattan Exhibition at Zimmer Stewart Gallery. Caron Penney of Weftfaced was commissioned by The Campaign for Wool to fabricate Ayres’ painting in 2014.

Caron Penney chose the painting by Ayres (122 x 102 cm) to be rendered into weave as the painting lent itself to the subtlety of blended threads, which represent each brush stroke the artist places onto the canvas. Although abstract, the painting is evocative of two poetic sources, as is often the case with Gillian Ayres: Autolycus’ song in Shakespeare’s Winters Tale and The Lady of Shallot by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

The tapestry was first shown by the Campaign for Wool (CfW) at their exhibition ‘Wool Interiors Collection’, at Southwark Cathedral during “Wool Week” in October 2014. It has also been shown at the 2014 Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts and more recently at Collect 2015 at the Saatchi Gallery, London.

The art of tapestry weaving is one which Caron Penney has developed over a long career. This has involved the creation of artwork for artists such as Tracey Emin, Martin Creed, John Hubbard and Gillian Ayres. Penney contributed to the book ‘Tapestry – a woven narrative’ published in 2011 and Authenticity and Replication: the ‘Real Thing’ in Art and Art Conservation, in 2014.

Penney studied Constructed Textiles at Middlesex University, graduating in 1993. Soon after this she began work at the West Dean Tapestry Studio were in 2009 she became the Studio Director. Penney runs her own Tapestry Workshop where she both interprets the work of other artists and her own designs.

Katharine Swailes studied at Carlisle College of Art and Design. She graduated in 1982 and then spent fifteen years working as a costumier and embellisher, for theatre, cinema and television. It was the constructive nature of woven tapestry that inspired her move to the medium in 1998, first studying at West Dean College. Following this she created work in her own studio, and also as a master weaver at West Dean Tapestry Studio, working for artists and designers such as Tracy Emin RA and Faye Toogood.

Swailes has shown at the V&A Museum, Saatchi Gallery and the Fleming Collection. Her work is held in private and national collections, nationally and internationally

The exhibition will be opened on Friday 5 June at the Private View from 6-8pm with a short introduction by Ann Sutton, MBE, internationally renowned for her work in woven textiles as an artist and for industry. During the exhibition Swailes and Penney will be inviting participants (of all levels) to one of two Creative Workshops at Arundel Museum on 6 & 20 June. Full details of the workshops are available on request.

Manhattan Exhibition – 6 June to 27 July
(Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm)
29 Tarrant Street, Arundel, West Sussex, BN18 9DG

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