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Susan Mowatt
Please, wait for the image to be loaded! Susan Mowatt
13. Susan Mowatt Great Britain

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I became intrigued by Tapestry weaving whilst studying at college in 1986. Having spent many hours as a child knitting, making patchwork and sewing in general, the Tapestry Department at Edinburgh College of Art seemed a natural choice: a place I could continue to use these materials within a fine art context.

      At first I found it difficult to engage with the Web of Europe project. I have to admit that the Tapestry ‘Mercury Hands over the Infant Bacchus to the Nymphs’ did not ignite my imagination and I did not produce any worthwhile ideas. This period of Tapestry weaving has never excited me in the same way as the Tapestry of the Middle Ages, an era of tapestry weaving which, for me, has never been surpassed.

      However, after warping up and starting to weave, my doubts subsided. I had made a decision to weave my selected section of foliage in a straightforward manner which pleased me and allowed me to approach the tapestry as a flat and essentially decorative object. I was able to concentrate on the strong quality of line and contrasting colours and tones(as in mille fleur). I found myself altering the colours in my fragment slightly so I could work with them and got lost in how and where shapes and forms became background or foreground, and vice versa. I was able to correct and sometimes even improve sections of the weaving. Quite simply, the process took over. The joy of mixing and matching colours and yarns, the repetitious piling of one yarn on top of another, the hours of concentration and rhythm all fed into a general state of ‘flow’. Having not woven for a fairly long period of time, I was reminded of why we do what we do. This stage of the production is, after all, the enjoyable part. The fact that I was caught up essentially in a copying exercise seemed (to me) to be acceptable given the aims of the project. Although I can identify the woven section as my handiwork, I cannot call it my work. A failing on my part, perhaps.

      At the moment I am questioning the relevance (if any) of woven tapestry in the world today. My interest lies in the act of weaving itself, and the implications it could have as an action (personal, social, political) in the twenty-first century. In order for Tapestry to exist in a meaningful way for me, I need to look beyond the confines of the medium. We can and should look back sometimes, of course, but it’s crucial to look forwards and outwards, too.