West Dean Tapestry Symposium 2015: skill-based making in the contemporary art world.

Next year I will be working with the National Centre for Craft and Design in Lincolnshire in the curation of an international tapestry exhibition due to open at the NCCD in October. This will be the first such major exhibition in England since 1994 and I am very excited to be involved. Therefore it was extremely timely to be invited to present a paper at the West Dean Tapestry Symposium and I was delighted to take part. There was an excellent turnout, with many of our most eminent tapestry artists in the audience. Anne Jackson and Shelly Goldsmith both spoke in depth about the ways in which their work has developed over the years whilst retaining its original research focus. There were also presentations from West Dean Studio weavers Katherine Swailes and Philip Sanderson described the balance between the Studio commissions and their own work. Other presentations were by Yvonna Demczynska who spoke about the promotion and selling of textiles in her Gallery Flow; and by Dr Liz Clay who described the progress and outcome of her collaboration as a felt artist with two Aubusson tapestry weavers. I wound up the day by reminding us of our recent history and discussing ways in which tapestry weaving can reflect contemporary social and political ideas. The event was followed by a viewing of the exhibition 'Hellreaf'.