A Triptych of Wools and Jewels

For the 2013 Edinburgh Art Festival Dovecot is hosting a triptych of exhibitions celebrating weaving and wool.

Fleece to Fibre: The Making of the Large Tree Group Tapestry explores the creation of an outstanding tapestry from a 1975 painting by artist Victoria Crowe. It is the first tapestry ever to be woven by Dovecot from undyed wool sourced from around the UK. Curated by Ben Divall, the exhibition offers a unique opportunity to understand the processes that connect sheep and tapestry.

edit Large Tree Group Installation 1Photographs guide the viewer through the world of wool. In addition to photographs of majestic sheep from Kathryn Dunn’s book Beautiful Sheep, new photography has been commissioned from Alicia Bruce. Bruce’s images are beautiful atmospheric snapshots of producers (such as Sue Blacker of The Natural Fibre Company), hand spinners and factory processing. The carefully considered selection of images is balanced by the eclectic mix of yarns received by Dovecot when the weavers put out a call for wool – parcels quickly arrived from individuals and local groups, Shetland’s own Flying Flock and larger producers Blacker Yarns and Jamieson & Smith.

The jewel of this exhibition is the tapestry itself: displayed on the loom, the back of the tapestry is covered in tags indicating where a selection of threads in the weaving have come from. This is a simple yet rich exhibition and a must-see for anyone with an interest in wool.

edit Nicholas Party, Lanscape Rug, 2012, Dovecot StudiosArtist Rugs: Dovecot’s Contemporary Rug Collection brings together the studio’s collection of rugs for sale. The rugs on display have been designed by established artists and rising stars including John Byrne, Alan Davie, Ruth Ewan and Alasdair Gray. To give context to these works there are focused explorations of the collaborative process between artist / designer and Dovecot rug tufter. One of these focuses on Suspended Block, a rug tufted by Jonathan Cleaver and inspired by a design by Julie Brook. Just like Fleece to Fibre, the display gives visitors the chance to see the development of the work from its original conception as a tapestry (with tapestry samples and selected colour samples) to finished rug. The exhibition is installed on the balcony overlooking the tapestry studio. During August Jonathan Cleaver will be tufting a new commission from artist Than Hussein Clark for an exhibition at The Matthew Gallery, Berlin in September.

Tug bangle by Gilly LangtonDazzle @ Dovecot is the 31st Edinburgh Festival Dazzle exhibition. The industrial setting of the South Gallery is a great venue for this mammoth jewellery showcase. One of the joys of Dazzle is the broad range of prices; it is an exciting selection with items to suit most budgets without compromising quality. Though a number of pieces have been singled out for their association with textiles, yarns and fabrics, the selling nature of the show means that it is a showcase rather than a carefully curated exhibition. However, this is no bad things and provides a useful platform for the makers to exhibit and sell their work.

Two up-and-coming jewellers caught my eye with work that combines awe-inspiring aesthetics with technical ability. Scottish jeweller Elizabeth Humble studied at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art. Her intricate rings in particular reflect the complex geology of Scotland’s land. Heather Woof only gained her MA from Edinburgh College of Art in 2012 but is already producing jewellery that uses rigid materials to suggest movement and fluidity. Her Windswept Collection is inspired by the wild Scottish weather and each piece is intricately created using hand cut titanium and mild steel.

Review by Francesca Baseby

See: Follow The Thread, Artist Rugs: Dovecot’s Contemporary Rug Collection
Until 14 September 2013
Dazzle @ Dovecot
Until 26 August 2013
Dovecot, 10 Infirmary Street  Edinburgh, EH1 1LT
Open daily 10.30am-6.30pm

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