Yearly Archives: 2018
“Beyond Likeness” is an exhibition of the portraiture of Victoria Crowe at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. Having worked with Victoria on her Leathersellers tapestry design with Dovecot Tapestry Studios, we were excited to return to her studio to discuss her approach and concerns in portraiture.
Victoria was in the early stages of a portrait of art historian and critic Duncan Macmillan. The portrait was still shifting and emerging under Vicky’s brush and Duncan’s personality and the conversation between them were somehow part of what was being recorded on the canvas.
It was a privilege to delve into the experiences, people and ideas that have shaped her process. Vicky’s commitment to get past the ‘polite veneer’ of acquaintance through her research, careful observation and importantly the conversations with her sitters in which mutual curiosity and vulnerability lead somehow to images that confront us with an honest intensity that seems to characterise her work.
The short film includes some of these insights into Victoria’s process and footage of Duncan Macmillan’s portrait in progress. Various edits were produced for use by National Galleries Scotland in the Portrait Gallery alongside the exhibition and online.
Usually artworks on the weaving floor at Dovecot Studios are there to be translated into tapestry. I remember noticing a big fluorescent riot of a painting and thinking ‘surely this is just on display? Part of an exhibition? Surely this can’t be translated into textile.’ …Of course it can. The wild abstract expressionist painting was the design for a large scale tapestry – a wall mounted rug commissioned by the Perse School in England to sit within a new Performing Arts Centre.
The design is by Glasgow based artist Victoria Morton whose abstract painting celebrates creativity, growth and the students of the school. The painting presented unique challenges in translation to the tufter Kristi Vana, who worked closely with Vicki to find ways to keep the expression of the painting alive in a completely different medium. Translating the quick, gestural marks, layers of translucent colour and the chance effects of the paint into the certainty of loops of coloured wool was part of the challenge. Kristi also wanted to capture the essence of Vicki’s style – the ‘handwriting’ of her particular gestures and marks and striking colour sense.
…All with a pneumatic wool-shooting-gun…
The short film follows the making of the Press Rug with a discussion between Vicki and Vana about the process and the design and a score by the artist (Vicki is also a musician and composer)