Tom Phillips: After Benches
Artists, Weavers + Tufters
After Benches, 1973
Tom Phillips CBE RA (b.1937)
Woven by Douglas Grierson, Fred Mann
Weavers, Neil McDonald, Jean Taylor
Wool and cotton
152 × 305 cm
Tom Phillips began his association with Dovecot and Director Archie Brennan in 1973 when he created his design for the After Benches tapestry. The image derives from a postcard of Battersea Park amongst Phillips’ extensive collection of picture postcards and the main theme is that of mortality.
The lettering along the foot of the panel tells how the original postcard purchased in 1970 became the painting Benches (now in the Tate Gallery) followed by two sets of prints and finally, through Brennan, a Dovecot tapestry. The panel was divided into four sections with each weaver treating his or her part in a different way mirroring the different modes of colour printing. Looking at the tapestry from left to right – or bottom to top as many tapestries are woven on the side – Fred Mann completed the weaving of the first section, Jean Taylor and Neil McDonald the second and third and Douglas Grierson the fourth.
The width and colour of the stripes along the border of the tapestry were determined by the weavers throwing a dice. They used this technique again to create the Edinburgh Tapestry Company logo, woven much later by Harry Wright in the late 1980s. Phillips’ and Brennan’s combined abilities to break down colour with precision ensured this tapestry successfully conveyed the image whilst embodying Phillips’ own artistic processes.
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