Commissioned by The Clothworkers’ Company, a Livery Company established in 1528 to oversee the cloth finishing trade in the City of London, the tapestry titled The Caged Bird’s Song is now on permanent display in Clothworkers’ Hall following the National Gallery’s unveiling of the work in the Weaving Magic exhibition in summer 2017. The textile masterpiece took five weavers nearly three years to weave, and was a collaboration with Turner Prize winning artist Chris Ofili.
Naomi Robertson, Dovecot’s Studio Manager and Master Weaver comments; “Often artists have no previous experience of their work being woven in tapestry before working with Dovecot. Chris came to the studio before designing his piece and spent time understanding our process, what we do, how we achieve it, what works in tapestry and our skills in colour blending.”
The weavers at Dovecot interpreted a watercolour by Ofili. He claimed that he wanted to see if they could ‘weave water’. The imagery in the tapestry reflects Ofili’s interest in classical mythology and contemporary ‘demigods’, together with the stories, magic and colour of the Trinidadian landscape he inhabits.
Peter Langley, Chairman of The Clothworkers’ Company’s Collections and Archives Committee comments; “We wanted to commission a work designed by a major artist which will be hung in our Hall for hundreds of years. Our roots are in the textile trade. We have been keen to support the craft of tapestry weaving and are delighted that this commission allowed Dovecot’s weavers to create a truly stunning work of art.”