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Sussex art historian to launch London tapestry exhibition

The Unicorn is Found © Crown Copyright, reproduced courtesy of Historic Scotland

A Sussex art historian is to give the opening speech at the launch on Wednesday (17 April) of a London exhibition of tapestries created by one of the University’s partner institutions.

In his capacity as President of the Society of Antiquaries, Professor Maurice Howard will open the ‘Finding the Unicorn’ exhibition at the Fleming Gallery in Mayfair, where tapestries made by weavers at West Dean College will be on show.

The University of Sussex acts as the validating authority for a number of programmes at West Dean (near Chichester), most of them diplomas and Masters degrees in conservation and visual arts.

Recently, through its West Dean Tapestry Studio the College has been involved with a project to furnish James V’s Royal Palace at Stirling Castle as it would have been in the 16th century.

For more than 10 years the Studio has been working on a recreation of ‘The Hunt of the Unicorn’ tapestries (a series of seven European tapestries dating from 1495–1505 and now housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York).

Historians studying the reign of King James V believe that a similar series of ‘Unicorn’ tapestries were part of the Scottish royal collection.

The tapestry team from West Dean went to New York to inspect the originals and carried out research into medieval techniques, the colour palette and materials.

And the results of their work will be on show at the new exhibition, which will also display other recent West Dean tapestry and textile commissions from designs by artists including Henry Moore and Tracey Emin.

Professor Howard describes his speech at the exhibition opening as “a positive step in the University’s long-term relationship with West Dean College”.

He says: “My speech at the launch will emphasise the importance of commissions for major textiles by public and corporate bodies as a means of supporting living artists in today’s world.

“Historic and modern ideas will meet together in this exhibition to underline a tradition of design and making that deserves celebration and encouragement.”

‘Finding the Unicorn: Tapestries mythical and modern’ is on at the Fleming Gallery from 17 April to 1 June.

The exhibition is sponsored by the Metropolitan Museum, Historic Scotland, the National Trust for Scotland, West Dean College and various worshipful London Companies.


Posted on behalf of: Art History
Last updated: Tuesday, 16 April 2013

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