Year

1999

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Abstract

This thesis researches the history and traditions of Scottish tapestry from its roots in the Arts and Crafts Movement when the Edinburgh Tapestry Company was set up in 1912, through the depressed war years to a flourishing in the 1960s and 1970s.

It examines technique and a narrative approach to the medium which was developed by William Morris from his study of medieval tapestries. Morris emphasised the importance of the craft skills and demanded dedication to the detail of technique through application and rigour on the part of the weaver. This way of working in tapestry was carried on through the Edinburgh studio, not as a static methodology, but as a carefully considered and flexible way of working, open to change and innovation.

The thesis argues that innovative and narrative traits of Scottish tapestry provided an ideal model for the development of tapestry in Australia; firstly through the initial work of Archie Brennan, tapestry artist and artistic director of The Edinburgh Tapestry Company 1962 - 1978 and secondly through Belinda Ramson, tapestry artist. A strong alliance was formed between Scotland and Australia.

Tapestry in Australia has been acknowledged world wide as a vital area of the arts with leading practitioners contributing excellent work to this field and I shall argue in this thesis that some of the distinct qualities of Australian tapestry are derived from the exchanges between the two countries.

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