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Appropriation: photography into tapestry

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Artist Marc Quinn has appropriated a powerful image, indeed one of the defining images of the London riots, and turned it into a tapestry. He acquired the rights of the iconic image of a masked and hooded rioter (by Kerem Okten) and created a striking sculpture, paintings and then a tapestry of it.

Quinn alludes to the pixelation of photograph being akin to tapestry, asserting that tapestry is like the earliest form of pixelation (The Art Newspaper) and so, in making the tapestry, Quinn made each knot the same size and proportion as a pixel. The tapestry in fact, looks just like a photo….
There seems to be an increasing interest in the tapestry as an art form. Grayson Perry brought his Hogarthian treatment of class analysis (The Vanity of Small Differences) to Channel 4 earlier this year, the resultant tapestries gifted by Perry to the Arts Council collection. Though Perry may have used photography to document his subjects, he also did a lot of drawing and didn’t work directly in the way that Quinn has, and other artists too. Both artists, have though, in their very different ways, chosen tapestry very deliberately, in tune with the use of tapestry as a means of documenting history, with Quinn, a moment in time, and Perry, an epoch.
Last year there was a fascinating exhibition in Edinburgh of contemporary artists working in tapestry. The show included tapestries by Hockney, Gauguin, Elizabeth Blackadder, Sir Peter Blake, Graham Sutherland, and Paolozzi. Worth looking too, at Chuck Close’s interesting tapestries from polaroid photo portraits and Pae White’s striking smoke tapestries, also gleaned from photos.


Posted by author: Jane Parry
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One thought on “Appropriation: photography into tapestry

  • Interesting work – thank you for the post. Funny how the tapestry and the photographic image are used to document social change and events through history (albeit retrospectively with tapestry [unless anyone knows of any tapestrers who work from work from life?!), and yes, how true that the pixel (something we think of as modern) is really just a pimped up humble stitch.

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