art, fiber art, London, tapestry, United Kingdom/Ireland trip, weaving

Tuesday, May 16: National Gallery

^^^Trafalgar Square from the steps of the National Gallery.

I was eager to see this contemporary tapestry exhibition at the National Gallery of Art. The tapestry, “The Caged Bird,” was designed by Chris Ofili, and woven by weavers at the Dovecot Tapestry Studio in Scotland. Loosely based on the book “And I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou, the exhibition showed the artist’s process and studies and explained the symbolism in the tapestry. Some I would not have seen or understood if I had not looked at the rest of the exhibit. There was a film, and when I looked at the triptych tapestry again it came even more to life for me.

As a tapestry weaver, I know that the weaving process is a linear art of units of two threads crossing at right angles, so I was impressed by the interpretation of the watercolor paintings by the weavers of Dovecot. Separating the three panels and then viewing them again as a whole made me appreciate it more as well. The rest of the room was painted with figures so it was a 3-D experience, in a way.

Guess what: you can watch the film on YouTube!

We decided to come back to the National Gallery the next day, went back to our hotel for a nap, then out to a local pub called the Railyard. I insisted on going to pubs since I am all about craft beers and logging new ones on Untappd, and even though Sandy is not a beer fan and has cut down on his alcohol a lot for health reasons, I appreciate that he obliged me in this. Here I was disappointed that the only non-hoppy brew that they had on tap was Guinness stout. I’d find out that the UK is as crazy about hops as the US is. I rarely saw a brown ale on tap. However, they did have a bottled Guinness porter that was excellent.

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