Thursday, May 19, 2022
EntertainmentExhibition displaying Scottish tapestry icon's works announced

Exhibition displaying Scottish tapestry icon’s works announced

AN EXHIBITION exploring the life and works of a weaver who was also a body builder and former Mr Scotland is set to go on display in Edinburgh. 

Archie Brennan is considered to be one of the “greatest unrecognised pop artists of the twentieth century” and is hailed as the man who changed the course of modern weaving.

Mr Brennan’s works will be on display in an exhibition named “Archie Brennan: Tapestry Goes Pop!” in the first-ever major retrospective of his work and will explore his life from 1931 to 2019.

Archie Weaving Whitworth, Paolozzi Tapestry circa 1967. Image courtesy of Archie Brennan Estate - Entertainment News Scotland
Archie Weaving Whitworth, Paolozzi Tapestry circa 1967. (Image courtesy of Archie Brennan Estate)

The exhibition will be on display at Dovecot studios on Infirmary Street in Edinburgh and will run from the 26th of April to the 26th of June.

A number of the works in the exhibition have never been on public display.

Considered an unrecognised pop artist because he chose to do tapestry, Mr Brennan began his 60-year weaving career as an apprentice at Dovecot, before becoming Artistic Director in 1963.

He was hailed as  “an innovator and iconoclast who inspired weavers all over the world from Papua New Guinea to Australia.”

Archie Brennan weaving in Hawaii 1985
Archie Brennan weaving in Hawaii 1985/86. (Image courtesy of Archie Brennan Estate.)

He dedicated his life to teaching and his influence on weaving can still be felt to this day.

Mr  Brennan was said to be a leading force in twentieth century tapestry, he was also a central, and largely overlooked force in the development of Pop Art in Britain.

Through tapestry, an output more often associated with stately homes, the court and monumental ecclesiastical works, he explored the key concerns of pop – ephemera, popular imagery and culture and questions of value.

A component of Brennan’s engagement with Pop Art is his interest in celebrity culture and media representations of individuals.

Throughout his career he was drawn to public figures such as Princess Diana, and boxer and activist Muhammad Ali.

Archie Brennan weaving in Nunavut 1991. Image courtesy of Archie Brennan Estate
Archie Brennan weaving in Nunavut 1991. (Image courtesy of Archie Brennan Estate.)

Often Brennan used small images cut from newspapers and magazines or sketched from the TV to translate pop culture imagery to tapestry.

The event will be bringing together over 80 tapestries and works, in a thematic exhibition exploring 60 years of prolific tapestry making, as well as archive material.

One of the keystones of Brennan’s practice is the tension between high and low art, throwaway culture and the time intensive process of tapestry weaving.

Celia Joicey, director at Dovecot Studios said: “Archie Brennan is the most significant tapestry weaver of the 20th century.

“We are delighted to be celebrating his life and work at Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh, where his career flourished.

“Through his innovative technique, international collaborations and his commitment to weaving as a fine art, Brennan’s legacy to contemporary tapestry is unparalleled.”

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