The Great Hall

Curated by Andia Coral Newton
Friday 24 to Friday 30 June, 2023
Islington Arts Factory, London

Poster art by Karolina Dworska
With the removal of the Lord at the head of the table, there is a transfer of power from the owner to the maker, allowing a wave of historically underrepresented voices to be heard. A contemporary tapestry hall is free to be more overtly political, more personal, more sexy.

In the words of Bill Bryson, writing about the ancient city Çatalhöyük, “it is remarkable to think that people thought of striped fabrics before they thought of doors and windows”. But although tapestries have been around for millennia, when they are mentioned, many will automatically think of the medieval ‘Great Hall’, with their massive swathes of highly decorative cloth covering the cold stone walls, displaying biblical and classical scenes. It’s clear to anyone who has visited a Great Hall that their purpose was to convey that the inhabitant was immeasurably wealthy (and probably also to intimidate those daring to enter the Hall).

It begs the question, what would it be like to walk into a room filled with contemporary tapestries, crafted by contemporary artists, displaying contemporary narratives? What are tapestry makers today conveying through their work? 

Nothing exemplifies this shift in creative autonomy like the hoards of nameless craftspeople who worked towards the completion of medieval tapestries being swapped out for individual artists and craftspeople using modern technology to actualise their own designs.

Join us, as we dare to enter The Great Hall.

Courtesy of  Patty van den Elshout