Elizabeth Blackadder in Compton Verney, Warwickshire
Eastern Still Life a wool tapestry by Elizabeth Blackadder is being lent by the Government Art Collection to Compton Verney, Warwickshire for their 'Tapestry: Weaving The Century at Dovecot Studios 1912-2012' exhibition. Dovecot studios was established in 1912 and many artists including Elizabeth Blackadder, Peter Blake and David Hockney have worked with the weavers there to produce significant works. The exhibition runs from 20 October to 16 December 2012.
This lively tapestry was created by Elizabeth Blackadder in collaboration with weavers at the Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh. Blackadder's paintings, graphic works and tapestries often contain small, evocative images and marks scattered over the work's surface. She sometimes uses collage, gold leaf, or other mixed media in her work. The beads, fan and flowers in this tapestry have been flattened out in a decorative pattern, as if seen from above. By dispersing the individual elements at random, often making use of overlap, Blackadder draws our attention to the passage of time.
Drawn from a variety of sources, Eastern Still Life shows the influence that the artist's travels, particularly in Japan and the Mediterranean, have had on her imagery. Blackadder is widely known for her watercolour still life. Contemplative and often oriental in style, these delicate watercolours can be traced back to her early fascination with curios brought back from the East by her grandfather, as well as her own later travels. The inclusion of a multi-coloured rug within the central portion of the tapestry suggests a playful reflection on the art of tapestry itself and its contested status as 'high art' or 'craft.'
Dame Elizabeth Blackadder was born in 1931 in Falkirk, Scotland. She studied at Edinburgh University and Edinburgh College of Art from 1949 to 1954, and taught at Edinburgh College of Art between 1956 and 1986. In the year of her graduation, Blackadder was awarded a Carnegie Travelling Scholarship, enabling her to visit Yugoslavia, Greece and Italy, where she was particularly impressed by the Byzantine architecture and mosaics she saw.
In 1954-55 Blackadder worked in Italy and in 1956 married the artist John Houston, with whom she has since travelled widely. Her working relationship with Dovecot Studios was established with a collaborative project in 1967 and was further developed in 1980 and 1987 with a number of commissions.
Blackadder was the first woman to be elected as a full member of both the Royal Scottish Academy (1972) and the Royal Academy (1976). She was awarded an OBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List in 1982 and has also received honorary doctorates from four Scottish universities. In 2001 she was appointed Her Majesty's Painter and Limner in Scotland.
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