Image: Chrissie Freeth, Song of the Woods
The world’s biggest prize for tapestry, The Cordis Prize has announced the shortlist of artists to be considered for the 2021 Cordis Prize. The shortlist of 20 artworks by 18 artists will be considered for the £8000 prize and exhibited at Inverleith House Gallery in Edinburgh from 23 October to 12 December 2021.
A worldwide open call attracted entries from as far afield as Australia, Canada and Russia, from artists working across the weaving spectrum, from traditional methods and fibres, to found materials and unorthodox applications of the Gobelin technique. Those chosen to be exhibited include renowned weavers from Japan, Iceland, Norway, Denmark and the United Kingdom.
Created to reward ambitious and skilled use of tapestry weaving techniques, the prize captures a snapshot of how this artform is being developed today. Artworks selected include the use of materials from second hand books to recycled plastic as well as traditional threads such as cotton linen integrated with wire, shredded garments and more. Exploration of colour and materials sit alongside artworks spotlighting social issues such as the refugee crisis, resistance to ethnic diversity and lockdown loneliness.
Image: Fiona Hutchinson
The 2021 Cordis Prize Shortlist has been selected by a judging panel convened by co-founder Miranda Harvey and consisting of; esteemed weavers Fiona Mathison and Jo Barker, and Emma Nicolson and Amy Porteous representing Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh’s Creative Programme team.
Speaking on behalf of the judging panel following the rigorous selection process Cordis Prize founder Miranda Harvey said: “This year, after a postponed deadline, we received a record high number of submissions from artists across the world. We were heartened to see an upturn in the number of young weavers, and in artists moving from different disciplines towards weaving as a medium for creating fine art.
The pandemic year has certainly exerted influence on the artists who submitted their work, through political critique, personal reflection, and in finding tapestry as a means of therapeutic making. The 2021 Cordis Prize boasts the most eclectic mix of artists, themes, and techniques to date, and we are pleased to present a broad reflection of the world of tapestry through our shortlist exhibition."
Image: Anne Bjørn
View the full list of shortlisted artists here. Among those shortlisted for the prize are:
Anne Bjørn (Denmark)
“I use light as a tool to transform the textile from definite handmade craft into ambiguous space. By letting the tapestries cast a shadow, by doubling, reflecting, distorting and repeating the work, it becomes more a question of an actual evocation of the textile and the many different views contained in an image than a traditional artistic practise. I am preoccupied with the simple expression as a poetic force.”
Image: Anna Olsson
Anna Olsson (Sweden)
To Me You Are Valuable
“I received these selfies from young people I know who have been denied asylum in Sweden. Some of them now live hidden in Sweden, some have moved on to other countries and some have been granted a residence permit at a new trial.
It all started when I could not attend a demonstration and I asked someone to take pictures for me. I got, of course, a selfie sent to me. I decided to weave it as a documentation of the struggle, an ordinary selfie of an ordinary teenager in the middle of a fight for his right to asylum. When I start weaving the picture, an ordinary guy is still an ordinary guy, but now with a piece of paper that says he cannot be in Sweden. The Swedish Migration Agency says that he is not desirable here, not worth a life in safety. I say instead, you are so valuable that I portray you in a tapestry.”
Chrissie Freeth (UK)
Song of the Woods
“I approach tapestry as a storyteller, reshaping family myths and my own experiences into tales which form the basis of my tapestries. This process was heightened during the lockdown of 2020 when I began walking daily in a local ancient woodland. It quickly became an essential part of my artistic practice; somewhere to think about my work and to confront myself and my memories.”
Image: Jo Mcdonald
Fiona Hutchinson (UK)
Wall of Water
“Wall of Water evolved out of my interest in ocean plastic and my experiments with tapestry and re purposed plastic bail strapping. Developing techniques to pull and manipulate the warp and weft, leaving warps exposed and unfinished the tapestry became a 3D woven drawing of the sea. On the surface it has colour, movement and flow which conceals what is hidden within, fragments of plastic.”
Jo McDonald (UK)
“I construct my work using found objects, largely second-hand books. Their built-in history is the attraction for me. The objects contain traces of the past – fingerprints, skin, dedications, scribbled notes – which offer us a glimpse into their earlier life. I work alone, because personal handling of the materials is important to me and relates to the themes, I explore concerning the embodiment of history within objects
Image: Patrick Stratton
Things I do Sometimes: Put Toothpaste on Toothbrush
“My work combines weaving with mechanics to document micro social systems. Using systematized observation, I make pieces that try to highlight small human moments from a playful, existentialist viewpoint. Inspired by writers like Samuel Beckett, I try to do my best with what I have, reducing my experience in a time of overwhelming saturation. This piece, "Things I do Sometimes: Put Toothpaste on Toothbrush" is a continuation of this theme, each part has been hand woven, and then assembled using electronics and wood. The purpose of this is to heighten an uneventful moment in life, by blowing it up to a grand scale and by referencing pop art motifs.”
Image: Tanya Nonthando Wilson
Tanya Nonthando Wilson (UK)
Entering Eden Triptych
“Entering Eden is a triptych depicting the temptations we face while journeying into the unknown. This is an autobiographical piece taken from my own lived experiences. It explores wonder, identity, other-worldly environments and the intense contrasting feelings of uneasiness vs tenacity and doom vs ecstasy. I use drawing as a visual diary so by converting my drawings into tangible woven chronicles that come directly from my own experiences, I can communicate my existence to the wider world.”
Zhanna Petrenko - Shroud of insecurity
Rachel Johnston (Portsmouth, UK) - Blackthorn
Katja Beckman - Little Black Dog
Anna Olsson (Sweden) Helping Hands
Angela Maddock (UK) Cloth Body
Anne Stabell (Norway) - Under the Surface
Louise Martin - Lifetime
Maija Fox (Finland) the socks of a companion that encourage me to notice
Martin Jørgensen - Bright Red
Misako Nakahiro - Fusion
Fiona Rutherford (UK) - Love is a Long Distance Dance
Ghislaine Bazir (France) - Alice et Anita 5
Elaine Wilson (UK) - Blue Splash
Find out more about the Cordis Prize for Tapestry and the shortlisted artists here: www.thetapestryprize.org/the-cordis-prize/