The tapestry being woven

Making a Tapestry for Hull (in Belgium)

Julia Vogl tells us about her trip to investigate a new process…

“Throughout my workshops at Riverside homes in Hull, we experimented with many mediums from photography, to virtual reality painting to block printing. It seemed only right that the final works also reflected the diversity of mediums.

At Cecil Gardens, I created a light box for one wall in the lounge. The work is a comprised of images from the virtual reality painting, words from our post-it-note mural about home, and also colours reflecting different conversations  and moods had over the workshops. While the box is flat in surface the light creates a pulsating vibrancy.

[Image description: an open book showing the artist’s method for the piece, with cotton reels in various colours in the background.]

I wanted to emulate that vibrancy with some warmth and a little bit more texture on the facing wall. While we did undertake some finger knitting and arm knitting, I think I was more interested in how everyone’s stories could be woven together. Despite great differences that living under one roof, I got a real sense of the participants in my workshop that they had care and compassion the residents had for each other.

[Image description: a very large loom in a dimly lit studio, along with a rack of different coloured cotton reels.]

While I have had little experience on a loom, I have been fascinated by textiles for a long time. I also have been particularly taken by tapestries and carpets, as they are an image  built up through knotting string. Essentially a series of data points being read as information, and fitting with my practice of reflecting a collective through individuals.

Making a tapestry by hand would exceed my time frame for the commission, but luckily in Belgium more particularly in the region of Flanders they are known for centuries of making tapestries. And I even found a company Flanders Tapestry that makes them using a computer- so digitally directing the loom.

I had to see this for myself to understand this technology so I ventured to Waregem Belgium in early May.

[Image description: the process of the tapestry being created on the loom.]

The family owned business has three looms, and hundreds of coloured threads in silk, acrylic, cotton and lurex. My favourite challenge for every project is picking colours, so here I was and I had to choose 12 colours. From the 12, they would be combined with white and black and each other to create 1000 options – illustrated on a colour flag. Before my very eyes the 12 colours were mounted on and then spun to create the colour flag.  It did feel like magic.

From the colour flag, the computer will read my design and highlight which combinations should be used about 244 options. Then the tapestry masters will correct these, by looking at my design and make a selection for me to approve or correct. The colour combinations are the key to the artwork coming to life- so that is where my work is now.

I can’t properly describe how magical it is to see the loom in action- and see a tapestry come to life, but here are a few photos and a video of this process. Can’t wait to share the outcome with Cecil Gardens.”

If you would like to help celebrate the launch of Julia’s final piece in this project, the tapestry, as well as participate in a workshop to make light boxes and have some nibbles, you can join us from 4:30 – 6:30 on 12 June at Cecil Gardens, Hawthorne Avenue.


Thanks To Our Main Funders

Arts Council Hull City Council