Tapestries: The Narratives of our Times

Home Event Tapestries: The Narratives of our Times

A Symposium chaired by Professor Lesley Millar

To celebrate Tapestry: Here & Now, the Holburne is delighted to bring together a distinguished panel of international speakers, all of them exhibiting their work in our Tapestry exhibition. The symposium will explore the relevance of tapestry as a means of conveying the narrative of our times. Providing perspectives from around the globe, speakers will explore how this art form can spark conversations and inspire reflection about our experiences and the world around us.The event will be chaired by Professor Lesley Millar, the curator of Tapestry: Here & Now and the speakers will include Yasuko Fujino (Japan), Barbara Heller (Canada), Valerie Kirk (Australia) and Pat Taylor (UK).


 Registration and tea & coffee breaks will be held in the Clore Learning Space (Ground Floor). The Symposium will take place in the Brownsword Picture Gallery (Second Floor – access is via the central staircase or the elevator). Please note that lunch is not included in the booking fee and that limited spaces are available in our pay-and-display car park.

 10am-10.30am Registration and Tea & Coffee

10.30am-10.40am Welcome to the Holburne, Catrin Jones, Curator of Decorative Arts, Holburne Museum

 10.40am-11am Introduction to the Exhibition and Symposium, Professor Lesley Millar, Curator of ‘Tapestry: Here & Now’, and Symposium Chair

 11am-12pm Barbara Heller, ‘Tapestry and Politics – the Story from Then and Now’

 12pm-1pm Pat Taylor, ‘Crafting Stories: However we tell stories, they are as real a part of us as the experiencing, fleeting self’

 1pm-2pm Lunch (not provided, food can be purchased from our Garden Café, delegates are welcome to bring a packed lunch or use one of the local eateries)

 2pm-3pm Yasuko Fujino, ‘Each story- Tapestries in Japan’

 3pm-3.30pm Tea & Coffee Break

 3.30pm-4.30pm Valerie Kirk, ‘Past, in the Present and the Future’

 4.30pm-5pm Q&A Panel & Closing Remarks, Lesley Millar



Yasuko Fujino, Japan
Each story- Tapestries in Japan

Yasuko Fujino’s presentation has three stands: the shared narrative of pattern and motifs in traditional textiles in Japan; her own work – the narrative of memory within her work and the narrative that emerges as she is making the work; the interest in creating contemporary tapestry in Japan.

Yasuko Fujino is Professor of Dyeing and Weaving at Kyoto City University of Arts. She has been an advocate and pioneer of contemporary tapestry weaving in Japan, where it is not a traditional art form. In 2012 she was co-organiser of the exhibition ‘International Tapestry’ at the Kyoto Arts Centre, Japan. She has exhibited widely in Japan and also in Australia, USA and Europe.  In 2013 she took part in the exhibition ‘Cloth & Memory {2}’ at UNESCO world Heritage Site Salts Mill in Yorkshire.

Barbara Heller, Canada
Tapestry and Politics – the Story from Then and Now

In her tapestries Barbara Heller addresses the concerns of our planet today – environmental degradation, population displacement, power and politics, and the plight of the individual trying to make sense of all this. Her presentation will draw from historical tapestries, her own work and that of other Canadians to demonstrate that contemporary tapestry belongs to a long tradition of narrative art.

Barbara Heller is a passionate proponent of the art of tapestry and of the place of tapestry in contemporary art. She has exhibited widely over the past forty years nationally, and internationally. Her tapestries have been featured in several books, magazine and newspaper articles and in two catalogues from solo shows, Cover Ups and Revelations: the Tapestries of Barbara Heller (2005) and Falling from Grace (2014). She served on the board of the American Tapestry Alliance for 8 years. She also founded the British Columbia Society of Tapestry Artists and the Canadian Tapestry Network which produces a newsletter with a Canadian slant three times a year.

Valerie Kirk, Australia
Past, in the Present and the Future

Valerie Kirk will discuss how tapestry presents our stories, leaving a legacy for future generations. She will look at how the history of people, for example early Peruvian culture, can be read through the tapestries that remain, and that artists today are still committed to producing images to be woven in workshops that demonstrate their views on our contemporary world.

Valerie Kirk studied art and design at Edinburgh College of Art and was captivated by the creative process/infinite possibilities of the tapestry medium. In 1979 she came to Australia to become a weaver at the Victorian Tapestry Workshop, and then worked in all states of Australia before moving to Canberra in 1991 to be the Head of Textiles at the Australian National University, School of Art, forging valuable and tangible links with the Scottish tradition and global field.

Between 2004-2013 she was commissioned to design and weave five major tapestries to celebrate Prizes in Science associated with the Australian National University.  She has received Muse Arts Woman of the Year Award and the ACT Arts Fellowship 2013 and her artwork is documented in the Telos Portfolio Collection publication.

Pat Taylor, UK
Crafting Stories: However we tell stories, they are as real a part of us as the experiencing, fleeting self

Pat Taylor will talk about the importance of narrative in woven tapestry with particular reference to her own recent work. She will also look both East and West, making connections, setting a prismic view of tapestry weaving.

 Pat Taylor has worked with the potential opened up by drawing and its relationship to woven tapestry since the 1970s. Engaging with emotional memory, using spontaneous mark making and classical techniques, travelling from monotone to bright colour, Pat Taylor creates images where past, present and future collide in a space devoid of landmarks.  Preoccupation with physiognomy, has been a constant theme, stimulated by current and sometimes physically distant events.

She worked at West Dean for over 30 years, both in the Professional Tapestry Studio and as Programme Leader of the MA Visual Arts Programmes.  Her involvement with West Dean’s Professional Tapestry Studio included commissioned projects, such as for Portcullis House in Westminster, as well as collaborations with prominent artists, Henry Moore, John Piper, Howard Hodgkin and John Aitken.

The day will be Chaired by the curator of the exhibition ‘Tapestry: Here & Now’, Professor Lesley Millar.

Lesley Millar, Professor of Textile Culture, Director of the International Textile Research Centre at the University for the Creative Arts, is an exhibition curator specialising in textiles. These have included 9 major international touring exhibitions: ‘Revelation’ (1996-98), ‘Textural Space’ (2001), ‘Through the Surface’ (2003-05),’21:21 – the textile vision of Reiko Sudo and NUNO’ (2005-7), ‘Cloth & Culture NOW’ (2008), ‘Cultex (2009-11), ‘Lost in Lace’ (2011-12.), Cloth & Memory {2} (2013),and ‘Kawaii: crafting the Japanese culture of cute’ (2015). She is currently the curator of the international exhibition of contemporary tapestry ‘Here & Now’. She was Principle Investigator for the EU project ‘Transparent Boundaries’ (2012-14) with partners in Denmark, Greece and Italy. She writes regularly about textile practice in Britain and Japan and is currently co-editing the book ‘Erotic Cloth’ for Bloomsbury Publishing (to be published February 2018). In 2008 she received the Japan Society Award for significant contribution to Anglo-Japanese relationships and in 2011 was appointed MBE for her contribution to Higher Education.