Nina's tapestry ready to be delivered to her. 
Ninas's tapestry is now completed, framed and mounted and ready to be delivered to her soon. I decided to frame this tapestry as I felt it needed the frame to set it off. It was just a little too small to hang on its own on the wall. I am really pleased with how it looks in its frame. Here is an image of it as it looks now.

The slight curve that you can see is a fault of the camera and I don't know how to fix that. If anyone can help me with this I would appreciate it. I can be e-mailed from this blog quite easily.

Also, if anyone out there would like to commission a tapestry from me please e-mail me with images that you would like me to work with. Nina sent me about six small snapshots of her and her partner, and from those I was able to isolate their faces and create two design concepts that I sent to her. She chose the more abstract one and the tapestry above is the result.

One of the beauties of tapestry is that they can be transported anywhere in the world quite easily as if they are not framed they can be rolled and are easy to handle. I only frame the smaller tapestries and I mount them in box frames so that they appear to be floating in their frame. I do not put them behind glass.

Tapestries are also easy to look after. They must not be hung in direct sunlight, but of course any art work should not be hung in direct sunlight. They can be lightly vacuumed every now and then to keep the dust off them. Tapestries are the most durable of all textiles and can last many many years if they are looked after. Some of the old tapestries in churches and old mansions were woven over 500 years ago. So they do make wonderful family heirlooms which can be passed down through the generations.

The Cutting Off 
Here is a photograph of my grandaughter Esther cutting Nina's tapestry off the loom with me looking on and supporting the work as she cuts the warp threads.

Tapestry completed  

On the last lap! here is a close up view of the work.

And here is the finished work, waiting to be cut off the loom. I am really pleased with how it looks. From a distance the faces come together very well.

Two Faces finished 
Well at last the hard part of this tapestry is now done. Both faces are complete and I think I have captured the likeness's well. Quite a lot of reverse weaving was done in these areas, and I had to be absolutely sure that the shapes in the planes of the faces were correct.

More photographs of Nina's tapestry 

Work is going well on Nina's tapestry and I have now had word from her that she is happy with the images I sent her of work in progress. She and her partner are away overseas at the moment. I think I have captured her personality quite well in this tapestry and I am now working on the second face and almost up to the eyes on this one. Once the eyes are woven the whole thing comes to life. If I get them right then the rest seems to follow.

Work progressing 

I have been working well on this portrait tapestry and here is an image of my progress to date.

A Portrait Commission 
For the last four or five weeks I have been working on a commissioned double portrait. Nina gave me a few casual snapshots of herself and her partner and from those I created a design concept for the portraits. I selected the faces from the photographs, enlarged them and simplified them on the computer then put the two together to create the design. The work is fairly abstract but catches their likenesses very well. It is best viewed from a distance because of the abstraction.

This first image shows that I have commenced work on the tapestry. It took three days to warp the loom - a lot of knots to tie to the top and bottom beams. The sett is 12ends per inch and I am using up to three strands of yarn in the weft. I needed the fine sett to be able to weave the fine detail in the faces.

Here I have completed the necks and am up to the hard bit capturing the likenesses in the faces. I need to be very accurate in building up the shapes that form the planes of the faces and I have done quite a bit of unpicking. Also the tonal values are very important. These must be right and the following photograph shows how I had to unpick a section in the left side of Nina's neck as I wasn't happy with the colour and the tonal value of it.

I am weaving in the new colour with a needle after pushing up some of the weft threads so that I did not have to take them all out. It worked okay thank goodness.

'Mysterium' at CoCA 
I was thrilled when the monofilament woven work 'Mysterium' was accepted for the Anthony Harper Award exhibition at CoCa,(Centre of Contemporary Art). It is good to be able to show a work more than once. This work was woven for the Professional Weavers exhibition 'Light Waves' and was exhibited in that exhibiton at Pataka in Porirua last year.

The hanging of the Anthony Harper works started last Monday and the opening was on Tuesday evening. Hamish Keith was the selector and he chose around 160 works from ovver 400 which were entered in the award. 'Mysterium' did not win the award but I was happy just to have it in the exhibition. It was a bit of a mission getting it to the gallery as it is a large work and was sitting in its big heavy box in my garden shed and I enlisted the help of my brother Joe Rea to get it to CoCA. We had to put it together there and carry it up the stairs to where it was going to hang. Warren Feeney the director of CoCA made a great job of hanging all the works. This exhibition is one of the largest exhibitions to be held at CoCA and is their main award exhibition for the year. The exhibition is very eclectic with works accepted from all over the country, many different genres from paintings to sculptures to object works, photographs and digital works A very difficult exhibition to hang, but it all looks great.

'Mysterium' is the work on the back wall straight ahead. A lot of the modular works were hung in this part of the gallery. The exhibition took up two galleries, the Mair Gallery and the North Gallery and my work is hanging in the back partition in the North Gallery.

Southern Muster 
The exhibition Southern Muster is currently on show in the Mair Gallery at CoCA. It is an exhibition featuring a number of top craft/object artists who are practicing in the South Island. The
exhibition was curated by Penny Orme who invited each participating artist to submit two works for the exhibition. My two tapestries, Exhibition Opening and Musicians in the Square on hanging together as a pair and I am really pleased with how they look. It is the first time they have been shown together.

New Drawings 
Over the last three months I have been working on three large drawings featuring New Zealand plants. They are worked in conte, and charcoal and I am quite pleased with how they have come up.

The New Zealand flax is not at all like the European flax from which linen is made. This flax plant (phormium tenax) is a large plant with strong leaves that grows wild in many parts of the country. The Maori people use it to make their 'muka' which is a fibre used in their weaving. The drawing features the pods though the whole work is not in natural colour.

The New Zealand iris is also different from the cultivated iris. It is a low lying plant with a very small white flower. The flower is no larger than my little finger nail.

This drawing shows the berries on the native iris plant. I really enjoyed working on these large drawings and will continue to do more on our native plants. I work on them in my little studio at home in the early morning and evenings. They are large drawings being 100x70cm in size and are all for sale at NZ$1200 unframed.

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