Presentation on theme: "Susan Mowatt was invited to represent Great Britain in this pan-european project. Web of Europe was a touring group exhibition which took place in two."— Presentation transcript:
Susan Mowatt was invited to represent Great Britain in this pan-european project. Web of Europe was a touring group exhibition which took place in two National Museums in two European capital cities: the Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire in Brussels ( ), and at the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest (13/10/ /11/11). Twenty-seven artists were invited from each of the EU countries to represent their homeland and join together to make a collective work, the ‘Web of Europe Tapestry’. The project was launched by the Budapest-based Ildikó Dobrányi Foundation in conjunction with the Hungarian Cultural Institute in Brussels. The Tapestry was created for the period of Hungary’s presidency of the European Union (Jan - June 2011). It was the intention of the organisers to direct attention, on a European scale, to the art of woven tapestry, a “part of our common European heritage meriting esteem and preservation, but also, simultaneously, a living, inspirational cultural medium, an exciting genre of contemporary art capable of ongoing renewal.” Each artist was asked to respond to a seventeenth-century Brussels tapestry in the collection of the Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest, by reinterpreting and reweaving a small section of it. The resulting 27 responses would then form a new work, the ‘Web of Europe Tapestry’. (Previously, Susan had been a prizewinner at the International Tapestry Exhibition, ‘Karpit’, 2001, and an Invited Artist at Karpit 2, 2003, both held at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Budapest, Hungary). There was a large accompanying catalogue and an international Tapestry conference attached to the project. Susan was invited to deliver a paper at the conference, held at Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design, Budapest, on The title of her paper was ‘Crossing Boundaries: Tapestry within the Context of the 21 st Century’. The project received substantial funding from several different organizations across Europe.
Web of Europe Background The project was launched by the Budapest-based Ildikó Dobrányi Foundation in conjunction with the Hungarian Cultural Institute in Brussels. The final collective work, the Web of Europe Tapestry, was made for the period of Hungary’s presidency of the European Union (Jan - June 2011). Invited artists were asked to respond to the seventeenth-century Brussels tapestry, ‘Mercury Hands Over the Infant Bacchus to the Nymphs’, which is in the collection of the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest. This tapestry had featured in the ‘Kárpít 2’ exhibition held at the Budapest Museum of Fine Arts in Susan Mowatt had been an invited artist at ‘Karpit 2’ after having been a prizewinner of The Golden Fleece Award at ‘Karpit 1’, an international tapestry exhibition held at the National Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest in Mercury Hands Over the Infant Bacchus to the Nymphs Each of the invited artists was asked to “re-interpret and re-weave (one of) twenty-seven small parts cut out virtually from this tapestry, whose mythological theme was taken from Ovid’s Metamorphoses.”
List of other participants: Maria Almanza (Belgium), Wanda Balogh (Hungary), Anet Brusgaard (Denmark ), Nora Chalmet (Belgium), Paola Cicuttini (Belgium), Gabriela Cristu Sgarbura (Romania), Muriel Crochet (France), Thomas Cronenberg (Germany), Adél Czeglédi (Hungary), Włodzimierz Czygan (Poland), Emese Csókás (Hungary), Ariadna Donner (Finland), Emöke (France), Martine Ghuys (Belgium), Peter Horn (Germany), Anne Jackson (Great Britain), Feliksas Jakubauskas (Lithuania), Aino Kajaniemi (Finland), Ieva Krumina (Latvia), Maria Kirkova Tzanova (Bulgaria), Federica Luzzi (Italy), Andrea Milde (Spain), Susan Mowatt (Great Britain), Judit Nagy (Hungary), Sarah Perret (France), Renata Rozsivalova (Czech Republic), and Gizella Solti (Hungary). Catalogue Katalin Schulcz: Web of Europe. In: Ibolya Hegyi, Katalin Schulcz (ed.): Web of Europe [catalogue], Ildikó Dobrányi Foundatiom, Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest, 2011, 25.)
Research Questions An invitation to participate in an international project as an invited artist is difficult to turn down, but the concept behind the project was problematic at the outset and presented a series of questions: Why bother reinterpreting the past when a set of narrow rules and regulations are imposed? Could 27 individual works created in isolation in various corners of Europe ever come together to form a cohesive whole? Can one collective Tapestry work, purely on the basis of medium alone? When Tapestry is commonly labeled as an anachronism, why create a project that so blatantly looks to the past? Whilst attempting to promote Tapestry as an art form, why select a Tapestry from an era that specifically mimics Painting? Having been allocated section no.13 to “re-interpret and re-weave whilst adhering to the original colouration, design and subject matter”, Susan approached the project in a straightforward manner and made a decision to produce a traditional gobelin tapestry. By failing to understand why she was being asked to spend time weaving a tapestry from a tapestry that already exists, she embraced the pointlessness of the exercise and proceeded in the only way she could think of: to attempt to improve on the original weaving and cartoon. The project became a means to explore many of the negative aspects she associated with contemporary Tapestry: copying pictures; lack of intellectual rigour; lack of restraint when using seductive materials; dependence on a limited skill set to make work; an over-reliance on one particular medium and an acceptance of Tapestry almost as a way of living. Woven piece no. 13
It reinforced her view that Tapestry at it’s best, is essentially a decorative art form. The skill, quality and beauty of the tapestries created in the Middle Ages have never been surpassed, therefore, what relevance does it have in the 21 st century? By a continuous desire to ‘promote’ the medium through single discipline exhibitions, are practitioners actually creating their own ghetto and marginalizing themselves even further from other artists? During the making of this work( Woven piece no.13) Susan came to realise that the act of weaving is of more significance than the end result: the process is of more interest than the product. In fact it is the making, the time invested and the state of Flow that it induces that is relevant in a world that become so high-speed and immediate. This key idea formed the basis for the next body of research and work. The final work was exhibited at the Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire in Brussels ( ), and at the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest (13/10/ /11/11). Web of Europe Tapestry
Chair of the press conference in Brussels: Katalin Keseru, art historian; Eniko Gyori Minister of State for EU Affairs, Hungary; Francoise Aubry, curator Horta Museum, Brussels; Marika Marika Szàraz, curator Ildiko Dobranyi Foundation; Imre Takacs, director of the Museum for Applied Arts, Budapest; Ingrid De Meuter, Royal Museums of Art and History, Brussels Susan Mowatt’s initial concerns about the project were confirmed. It was very successful in that it brought people from different EU countries together, but the final work was a miscellany of styles and techniques, with many of the invited artists choosing to stray away from the stipulated instructions. This resulted in an odd composition of eclectic fragments and an unwillingness amongst participants to recognisethis. The absence of any open criticality coupled with the customary tapestry-artist self-congratulatory approach meant that the artists and people on the whole, seemed to be delighted with the project. It highlighted Susan Mowatt’s view that the most exciting tapestry work around currently is made by artists, not “artist-weavers”. It is artists (e.g. Anne Wilson, Ann Hamilton, Rupert Norfolk, El Anatsui) who are not locked in to a particular discipline and who venture into fields unknown, either through collaboration or driven by conceptual need who are pushing the boundaries of what Tapestry can be and how it can be viewed. Web of Europe Tapestry installed at the Musées Royaux d’Art et d’Histoire in Brussels
Conference This perspective formed the premise of the paper she had been invited to deliver at the conference at Moholy-Nagy University of Art and Design, Budapest, on Laslo Moholy-Nagy was a contemporary of Walter Gropius. Twisting Gropius’s famous Bauhaus declaration “Architects, sculptors, painters, we must all turn to the crafts!” she suggested that artist-weavers should all turn to Art. The conference coincided with the Web of Europe exhibition at the Museum of Applied Arts in Budapest. Susan Mowatt was an invited speaker at the Web of Europe Conference and delivered a paper (to be published – pending) entitled Crossing boundaries: Tapestry within the Context of the 21 st century