Terry Woodward Tapestry

Posted by VP for TA on 29 December 2017 | 0 Comments

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Toward the end of 2017 Launceston members of HWSD Guild of Tasmania inspected the seven panel tapestry held in the archives of the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery of Launceston. It was designed by Terry Woodward and others, then spun, dyed and woven by a dedicated group of Guild members.  This Bicentennial Tapestry was then presented to the Launceston City Council in 1989, and hung in the Town Hall for many years. See the original text from Island Yarn #92 back in 1989.

Guild members Sara Nye, Tara Ulbrich, Joyce Ellett and Kathy Littlejohn thank QVMAG volunteer Evelyn Peacock, and Registrar Jai Paterson for making the viewing and inspection possible.

Extract from Island Yarns #256:

It was a thick plot and a thicker weft. The trail began when librarian Anne Frost unearthed an old IY article with a reference to a Bicentennial Tapestry presented to the Town Hall of the Launceston City Council in 1989. She forwarded the case to the Newsletter editor whose curiosity was sparked.

But our editor knew this was too big to answer on her own. She called in a worthy assistant, one with contacts. Kathy Littlejohn's reliable informer, Di Kearney, recalled the original events but had lost the scent, not knowing the precise location of the missing work. Fortunately, others provided the clues and the rumour that the tapestries were held by the QVMAG was investigated. Guild member and Art Gallery Registrar Jai Paterson used her influence and intuition, and a pair of white cotton gloves, to trawl the storage attics of the museum. By Jove she found it! A viewing was scheduled.

Joyce, Sara, Kathy and Tara embarked upon a mission to experience the notorious tapestries first hand. And what a satisfying morning it was. The tapestries laid out were far more impressive than the records showed. Getting up close and personal with the work of spinners, dyers and weavers of nearly 30 years ago was a delight. Joyce had recollections of the dynamics of those involved and the sheer volume of labours that went into the project at the time. 

No doubt others could add their eyewitness testimonies. Tangential mysteries appeared....how and when did this tapestry come under the care of the gallery? Where are the missing designs and tapestry cartoons? What other stories reside in the hearts and minds of Tasmanians about this ambitious community arts project? And finally, what is the future of this masterpiece? Are we four, and the gallery staff, to be the last to enjoy the hangings, now laid at rest, or will they have another airing? Case closed, or to be continued?