Recreating the illusion of water in tapestry has long been a subject of fascination for tapestry artists. The qualities of water, its movement, the fact that it is both transparent and reflective, the way it twists shapes and forms through reflection and optical distortion, become an inviting challenge to translate into wool.
The qualities of wool – soft, heavily pigmented, light absorbing – and the process of tapestry weaving – time consuming, detailed, and creating a permanent and enduring image – stand in marked contrast to this. Yet when the material and subject matter are brought together, the effect can be captivating. This digital display allows you to explore the qualities and experience of tapestry weaving and the different approaches to woven water created by tapestry artists over the years.
Dovecot also has a further connection to water, moving to a new home in the old Infirmary Street Baths in Edinburgh in 2008. The weaving floor now sits where the surface of the pool water once was, and this contrast has inspired numerous tapestries by Dovecot weavers over the intervening years. A number of these tapestries can be seen in this exhibition.
Water and art are also brought together in the medium of watercolour. The fluidity of watercolour paint allows for effects rarely achieved with other paint mediums. Watercolour paintings, when translated into tapestry, provide a further opportunity for the weaver to capture movement in a still and studied, woven moment.
Image above: David Cochrane and Dovecot Studios, Water Surface 2018. Image by Dovecot Studios.