Thursday, 22 September 2011

Lesotho Tapestries

After being told at the Victorian Tapestry Workshop that it was the only tapestry workshop in the Southern Hemisphere, I thought I should tell you about the Lesotho Tapestries. Lesotho is a landlocked Mountain Kingdom in the middle of South Africa and is famous for the pure mohair wool tapestries made there. If you go to you will see the making of a Lesotho tapestry, from the spinning of the mohair through to the weaving of the tapestry on the loom to the finished roduct. Although the weavers of Lesotho do not have the fancy workshop and equipment that they have in Australia, the finished product is top quality. The designs are African, sometimes from the weaver's own artistic skill and sometimes from African artists.
If you also go to you will see weaver Marguerite Stephens discussing translating the artist William Kentridge's original concepts into intricate, large-scale tapestries. Located in Diepsloot (a suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa), the Stephens Tapestry Studio employs a team of local weavers, spinners, and dyers who work on vertical looms using mohair spun in Swaziland.

Having witnessed first-hand one of the twentieth century's most contentious struggles—the dissolution of apartheid—William Kentridge brings the ambiguity and subtlety of personal experience to public subjects most often framed in narrowly defined terms. Using film, drawing, sculpture, animation, and performance, he transmutes sobering political events into powerful poetic allegories. Aware of myriad ways in which we construct the world by looking, Kentridge often uses optical illusions to extend his drawings-in-time into three dimensions.

The Victorian Tapestry Workshop in South Melbourne

After meeting the lacemakers of Melbourne, I was told that I must visit the Victorian Tapestry Workshop, so my daughter-in-law (along with 8-month old Ryan) drove us to Melbourne South for the free tour of the workshop. We arrived early for the tour so had a stroll around the surrounding streets doing some window shopping until it was time. There were only 2 other ladies attending but we had to wait for a bus of tourists to arrive, but they never did. so it was quite a personal tour.
Artist weavers working on a tapestry
with scores of coloured wools
tapestry in progress
with the weaving bobbins
One is not allowed to enter the workshop itself where the weavers are working on looms up to several meters wide, but there is a mezzanine level where one can look down on the whole workshop. It was established in 1976 by the government of Victoria and is one of very few such workshops worldwide, weaving tapestries in the traditional European way. Most tapestries are specially commisioned for art galleries, corporate foyers and boardroms, embassies, museums etc and each design is unique and designed by contemporary Australian artists. In the dying area, pure Australian wool is dyed to the exact shades required for each tapestry and the weavers are artists themselves reproducing the design in a woven wool tapestry.

The gentleman who gave the talk and showed us from the upper level what was going on in each area, was very knowledgeable and patient with all our questions but as it has been rather a long time since the visit, this is a very cursory report on it. I was so enthralled by it all that I forgot to take any photographs so I took these couple from the advertising leaflet. If you wish to find out more, go to .

I did buy some cones of the fine wool to use for making lace - possibly a scarf - when I get home. It was not easy to choose a colour from the array of 366 colours but I eventually settled on 3 shades of denim blue.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

A lacey afternoon with Leonie

A few days after the outing to Brighton, Leonie brought her lace around for me to see. I was amazed at the size of the box that she brought.  She is a very prolific lacemaker and loves using colour. The box was full of her lace and it took the whole afternoon to browse through them all.  I took lots of photos and here are a few of them  to illustrate Leonie and her style of lace - making lace is fun!

lovely in lilac

scrumptious in pumpkin
tatted glove and dolly bag
pretty in pink

beautiful tatting!
frilly tatting

Catching up!

Well I have been home from Australia for about 6 weeks now and it has been such a busy time that I have only just got around to writing about the rest of my holiday - before it becomes history. Being on holiday was sooo nice that it is difficult to get back into my normal life , especially as I had another holiday in Botswana, a week after returning from Australia, but I will get to that all in good time. Just be patient and I will try to catch up.