Australian Tapestry Workshop_Inaugural Design Prize for Architects

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The design is a process, an object results.


It was interesting to see our collaboration here play out over the months. Beginning with a series of relaxed discussions with the wonderful Ainslie Murray. Who offered us a lesson in the generosity which can be enabled when a collaborator has such confidence in their own abilities that they bring no agenda other than to see where a conversation can go.


And that conversation ranged widely, but settled on an idea based in non deterministic form; the elegance of a system which would enable something to grow in complexity over time and through collective effort. As such allowing us to enjoy a moment as gardeners, not architects, to borrow a term from Brian Eno. (Within the framework of a design prize for architects, no less!)


In the end we spent little time developing the parameters of our system. We spoke to Hillary Green in Tassy (thanks!) who helped us to understand it to be technically sound, able to produce a tapestry, and another, and another. The system calibrated to be open enough to allow a balance of repetition and improvisation. Emulating the simplicity of a jazz score, our intent was to enable the act of weaving to be performatory, to weave for the sake of the weave, unencumbered by the compulsion to mimicry, in adherence to the cartoon. The result would perhaps be a kind of pure structure in the architectural sense. A material basis for pictorial from.


(We remembered later a lecture of Zumthor’s in which he recalled the terrible result of an invitation to design a tapestry.)


It was a special privilege to have Ainslie perform first from the score, to test and fine-tune the piece, to have her construct and deconstruct.


We were honoured to be selected by the jury to join the shortlist, joining in the company of a wonderful collection of practitioners who have prepared much of the work we have admired recently and into the past.


Having other works underway in the city, we travelled to the opening exhibition, and were overwhelmed by the beauty of the Workshop space in South Melbourne. The fine filigree of the taut iron stretched space, all white (actually an aged cream, the dark metal and undercoatings straining through) which holds a joyous plethora of colour. Yarns in every permutation of colour covering every horizontal surface; so striking.


The place alive with colour and permutations, our intellectual approach seemed anaemic in such rich surrounds. A moment of worry, as gardeners, for the strange beauty of our possible plants.


We had a conversation with a master weaver during the opening exhibition. It brought home to us the shadow which falls between sublime technical expertise, and the aspiration to make innovatively.



panovscott - Australian Tapestry Workshop_Inaugural Design Prize for Architects.

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