Fabric of the North was originally scheduled to open in May 2020, at Cromford Mill in Derbyshire, before transferring to Kirkleatham. The exhibition opened a year late, on 18 May 2021, and will run until January 2022.
Is this a record?
(Revised 18 May)
Ruth's tapestry The Blessing of Rain, which is on display at Fabric of the North, has been commended in the prestigious Knitting and Stitching show, where it was the only tapestry entry. You can see Ruth's work here - and be sure to vote for it in the People's Choice competition! (And then you can enjoy seeing it 'in the flesh' when Kirkleatham Museum re-opens post-COVID.)
Our exhibitor Shirley Ross has had a work chosen for exhibition at the Leeds Fine Artists' Winter Online Exhibition. Lifespan makes a fascinating contrast with her reflective and largely monochrome On the Shoulders of Giants, which is hanging in Kirkleatham.
Hey, ho - locked down again, and locked out. All those lovely tapestries inside Kirkleatham Museum, and no way to see them.
But wait - Of course you can see them. It's not the same as visiting in person, but you can still enjoy a lovely virtual ramble round Fabric of the North, thanks to our online catalogue. Just start here, with Ruth Bell's powerful Unifying Force, and follow the NEXT buttons all the way through to Julia Wilkins's soaring trio of gannets. Don't rush. Take an hour. Enjoy. Who knows, you may even decide to buy one of the 'For Sale' works as someone's very special Christmas present!
PS: if you don't want a whole tapestry, how about buying some yarn for the weaver in your life? The pop-up weaving shop inside the Museum is sadly unavailable for the next month, but the organisers - weaversbazaar - have a wonderful website, where you can browse through all kinds of colourful materials and kit for future projects.
There you are - lockdown's not all bad news, is it?
Spot the similarity?
A Fabric of the North exhibit has been attracting awed comments from visitors, one of whom wrote: "Dot Seddon’s Contained at Teesport ... gives the impression of a massive powerful structure that we only see part of." An appropriate comment for an area built on steel.
What we hadn't realised was that Dot's tapestry had been turned into a flag, and proudly flown from the rooftops of Middlesbrough Town Hall - sideways, by the look of it, but what the heck. The flag was placed by an Arts Council-supported project, under the no-nonsense message: "Artists live here, artists work here. Be proud."
If you want to see more of Dot's work, she's got a very moving tapestry portrait in the current Open Exhibition at the Baltic, in Gateshead.
More comments from some of our early visitors:
"Shirley Ross: On the Shoulders of Giants - a large monumental tapestry reflecting the age of steam in monochrome. Fabulous! It was particularly interesting to see examples of Shirley’s process of design sketches, developing on paper, seeing it refined into a working drawing as a guide for the final work on display."
"Kirkleatham Museum... was a truly lovely setting and it must be said that the relatively small rooms where the tapestries were displayed contributed to a feeling of intimacy. Tapestries were grouped by theme and this also added to the enjoyment of viewing them. I wish I could have spent longer looking at each exhibit but that would have taken so long as there was such variety."
"Other weavings which leapt out -
They liked what they saw. What did you think of your visit? Click a Comments link and let us know.
Here's a short video clip featuring Joanne Hodgson, Manager of Kirkleatham Museum, Jane Riley, the designer of the Fabric of the North exhibition, and Sally Reckert, who brought the exhibition together in the first place. If you can't get to FOTN, this'll give you some idea of what you're missing. And if you're thinking of visiting, it'll convince you.
Sorry we can't show the video right here, but this website is run on a shoe-string! Click the link, though, and you can enjoy the clip on Facebook.
The online workshops by inspirational weavers Alastair Duncan and Michael Crompton have all filled up. But don't despair! Both artists have kindly offered to do an extra series of workshops if there are enough takers. If you've seen - or listened to (oh, yes) - their works in real life or online, you'll want to know more. Just visit ZOOM! and add your name to the reserve list.
Here are some general impressions from early visitors. Comments on individual works will follow.
"An amazing amount of tapestry weaving. So much inspiration from the weavings exhibited. A privilege to be there."
"Fabric of The North may well prove to be a seminal moment in raising awareness in the region to the place of woven tapestry as an art form. A real privilege to have seen such a wonderful variety of artistic styles and, of course, such superb technical execution."