Staff News: Cordis Prize Shortlist

Philip Sanderson, Visual Arts Associate Tutor and Master Weaver of West Dean Tapestry Studio, was recently shortlisted for the prestigious Cordis Trust Prize for Tapestry 2016. The aim of the prize is to reward ambitious and skilled use of traditional tapestry weaving techniques.

PhilipSanderson_No13ThrustBlockShoe_122x108_2015
Philip Sanderson – No.13 Thrust Block Shoe (2015) Cotton warp, cotton and wool weft, 122 x 108 cm

The shortlisted entries are exhibited as part of Visual Arts Scotland’s 2016 Annual Exhibition in the Upper Galleries of the Royal Scottish Academy and the winning entry will be selected from the shortlisted exhibits. The expanded exhibition, as part of Visual Arts Scotland’s 96th year, occupies the Upper Galleries in the prestigious Royal Scottish Academy building. The shortlist was drawn up by a prestigious panel of guest selectors with specialist knowledge of woven tapestry, including Alison Watt, Linda Green, and Fiona Matheison, along with Miranda Harvey of the Cordis Trust and VAS President Robbie Bushe.

Philip provides a statement about his work below:

No. 13 Thrust Block Shoe is a re-interpretation of a drawing discovered in an old engineering examination book. The drawing has gone through different stages of transition prior to weaving with alterations to scale, from 7.7cms to 122cms wide in the finished tapestry, and form; moving from a linear drawing to a silhouetted shape. The final transformation into a woven tapestry is intended to present the image in a new light, the contrast between the subject matter and the medium adding a further layer of ambiguity, and allowing different interpretations of the work to emerge.

In 2014 I received a Grant from The Theo Moorman Trust which allowed me time to explore further the relationship between image and process through the creation of a series of experimental samples culminating in a finished piece of work. As my research and ideas progress the warp spacing has become increasingly wider to facilitate the production of larger tapestries but also to create a surface that emphasized the woven structure of the work.

The weight of weft has also increased proportionally; a series of coloured threads are combined with strips of plain and patterned fabric which help to add weight but also create the potential to introduce another textile language into the weaving process. Working with heavier materials brings a new dynamic to the weaving and allows for greater spontaneity, the translation of the image being informed partly by a basic cartoon but equally by the limitations of the warp and weft settings.

During the production of the tapestry new connections and contrasts between the original drawing and the finished tapestry began to appear, I noticed that the ‘industrial’ object represented in the drawing was created using a woven surface that due to its heavy nature has an ‘industrial’ feel.

The uniformity of the weft, with little variation, gives a very flat appearance to the work and suggests a more mechanical process than that of hand weaving.  Additionally the flatness of the weaving contrasts with the shape of the tapestry, the original drawing is presented as a pictorial view (similar to an isometric projection) creating an interesting tension between represented and literal surfaces.

Philip Sanderson 2015