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Time and Tide and Tapestry
In April we travelled to Orkney for a week of wild weather and wide horizons. Catching up with old friends was fun, and for me seeing what I recognised after three decades away was always going to be interesting.
One of the places I had long wanted to visit is Hoxa Tapestry Gallery. It is here that mother and daughter, Leila and Jo Thomson, weave and display their pieces for sale. Their work is inspired by the rhythm of life and landscape of Orkney.
The setting of the gallery/workshop is glorious in itself, surrounded on three sides by open water and endless skies. Just standing there was inspiring.
Leila and Jo have quite different styles, though both are masterful in woven tapestry techniques and use of colour. Below is a detail from 'Testimony' by Leila, which is 13' x 7'. Many of her works feature birds and I love the moonlit details on this flock.
Her use of aerial perspective - bird's eye views - enables her to describe almost infinite space and aeons of time. Much of her storytelling feels like poetry in woven form and elicited in me a visceral response. I wanted to linger within these tactile creations, or better still to step into them and fly.
'Ribbon of Life' is 6'x3'. Deceptively simple yet encompassing the constant rhythm of all living things.
Jo's work is more directly linked to her drawing and painting practice. She blends multiple shades to create works which are simultaneously busy and calming and she captures shell-strewn beaches and light over water beautifully.
If you have the opportunity to travel to Orkney I hope you will choose to wend your way to South Ronaldsay, into St Margaret's Hope and then follow the little road to Hoxa, stopping at the perfect Sand of Wright en route.
Photography within the gallery is discouraged, perfectly reasonably, so the images above are not of great quality. I have either taken screenshots off the website or photographed cards which I bought there. Go see the real things up close and marvel at the skill and patience to create such timeless beauty with wool, silk and cotton. You will be as awestruck as I am.