Sunday, 15 June 2014

The Walthamstow Tapestry














Feeling more than a little wiped out at the moment. Just emerged from a four-week Ofsted inspection of Children's Services which is probably one of the least fun things I can think of, and as a consequence, we are now four weeks behind on the end of year returns, four of which have to be in by the end of June (we've started one...). Throw in an office move last Friday... who knows what chaos awaits when I go to the new place on Monday.


So, I have data fatigue and was feeling somewhat in need of a change. What better way to shake this off than with a visit to Winchester Discovery Centre to see Grayson Perry's Walthamstow Tapestry; a mind-blowing 15 metres of intricately detailed images and text woven by Flemish weavers.


It's Perry's comment on consumerism bound up in a 'seven ages of man' narrative. The tapestry is peppered with household brand names which sit supposedly randomly in amongst the images. Every inch of the picture plane is used and is heavy with symbolism and his influences are evident: medieval and folk art and Sumatran fabric for instance. It has been likened to the Bayeux Tapestry.


Despite some of the macabre imagery, it's a very beautiful thing. The colour and texture and the drawings themselves are lovely and one could gaze at it for hours and still find new details to delight and ponder over. Perry is a consummate doodler with humour - I mean that as a compliment - and it took me back to my childhood and the hours I spent immersed in my collection of Richard Scarry books. Again, this is not to denigrate the downright genius of the Walthamstow Tapestry, but rather, is a comment about the visual impact the work has and its ability to hold the attention. I think it's wonderful. And I'm very pleased to have been able to see it as I found a newspaper article today stating that last month, it was sold to an art school in China. It will be in Winchester until 6 July so go see it.



 

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