The ABC online arts review quoted a Victorian exhibition of paintings that were translated into tapestry.
Neither the curator of the exhibiting gallery nor the head tapestry weaver, the spokesperson for the craft exhibitors were concerned with the inference of the title. It seemed to read that artwork was on a certain level, and tapestry from another place was cleverly able to translate a painted image into something else.
Let us make an initial distinction. The Melbourne institution has always advertised itself as interacting with corporate clients; it creates a product that is professional, clearly corporate art or furnishing. A gallery in Sydney behaves similarly, collects products for the corporate sphere, paintings, sculpture, pottery. These display a triumphant objectivity; no messy, subjective themes, no minor key notes are evident.
Sadly however, when textile artists and curators assemble at conferences, much academic debate is taken up with the negative characteristic of tapestry imitating a visual image. Admired elsewhere, in this serious context the attribute is decried. The contradiction has never been acknowledged, much less addressed.
My work has always asserted that tapestry is a fit medium whereby the visual artist is able to compete with more ‘facile’ forms of visual expression. My purpose is to sheet home the fact that often painters wear the ease of their chosen medium rather glibly. Marks and gestures are not loaded with deliberation, not challenged nor defended because painting continues to wear the shoddy mantle of genius. Of course the prevaling house style is still abstract expressionism, wherein violent energy and not weighted visual language is preferred.