Alberta Whittle’s Tapestry, Entanglement is More than Blood is now on display at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern One).
Woven by Dovecot Master Weavers Naomi Robertson, Emma Jo Webster and Weaver Ben Hymers, the tapestry has been made with cotton and linen threads, whaling and fishing rope and adorned with Venetian trading beads, children's hair clips, manillas, and cowrie shells. Entanglement is more than Blood was co-commissioned by Scotland+Venice and Dovecot Studios and has been purchased by the National Galleries of Scotland with assistance from Lesley Knox in 2023.
The tapestry interrogates themes of migration, the transatlantic trade of enslaved people and climate colonialism and was unveiled in 2022 as part of Scotland’s presentation for the 59th Venice Biennale. Developed over 10 months by Whittle with Scotland’s world-class master weavers here at Dovecot Studios, the tapestry was a major undertaking for the exhibition, both in its scale and ambition. As the first work to be encountered by audiences, it draws them into Whittle’s conceptual story-telling by melding maritime yarns with symbolic imagery and tropical colours.
The tapestry design draws together key visual themes in the artist’s installation: water, gateways, hands, diamonds, snakes and Venetian glass. Whittle, who was born in Barbados, grew up in Britain and now lives in Glasgow, has become known for her collaborative film installations focusing on battling anti-blackness, provoking new understandings of history and nurturing compassion. Her interest in working with tapestry stems from her time at Edinburgh College of Art, which was a centre of excellence for the medium from the early 1960s to the 2000s. Whittle has chosen to collaborate with Dovecot on the Venice installation as a way of representing her Scottish identity and, in part, to explore both the conceptual and aesthetic possibilities of her ideas through the tapestry.
Alberta Whittle: create dangerously is an immersive exhibition at the National Galleries of Scotland: Modern One which invites you to slow down and pause. At the heart of Alberta’s solo show is her generous spirit which promotes compassion and collective care to resist racism and anti-Blackness.
Alberta underlines Scotland’s complicity in the structures of white supremacy by weaving often deeply personal stories of family and belonging. Alberta’s body of work ultimately offers a message of hope, asking us to imagine a world outside these damaging systems and ways of thinking.
Alberta Whittle: create dangerously is the largest showing of the artist's works to date, with sculptures, digital collages, watercolours and new paintings, made especially for the show, taking over the ground floor of Modern One. Read more about the exhibition here.
Alberta Whittle (b.1980) is a Barbadian- Scottish artist who lives and works in Glasgow. Her work encompasses drawing, digital collage, film and video installation, sculpture, performance and writing. Whittle’s practice prioritises questions of self-care and compassion while considering the historical legacies and contemporary expressions of anti-blackness, colonialism and migration. Read more about Whittle’s practice on the Scottish National Galleries website here.
Alberta Whittle: create dangerously is on display now at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (Modern One) through Sunday 7 January 2024.