Monday, April 16, 2012

Day 4 Edinburgh

Fri 13 April
Dovecot Tapestry Studios sports a dynamic location. A few blocks off the Royal Mile and just down from the Museum of Scotland, the city pools sat decaying since the 1990’s. The Victorian building, designed by Robert Morham, was constructed in 1885 and housed two pools, one for ladies and one for men. After a complete renovation designed to retain the Victorian architectural features, the building now houses two galleries on the ground floor, Dovecot Studios and offices on the first floor, and two additional floors of rental office space.
Pool before renovation
The weaving floor now sits at what was pool water level in this Victoria era building.
Except for a break during WWII, the studios have been weaving tapestries for commission since 1912. After the war, they began collaborating with well-known artists, a tradition that continues through today. One walks into the weaving studio flooded with natural daylight and colors of yarn cones vibrating from the walls and is dazzled. A viewing gallery rings the perimeter of the large open studio at second story level. Work of past and present Dovecot weavers is displayed here. The studio/gallery, former site of the large pool, feels like a warm, inviting sanctuary.

 Dovecot has three  master weavers and two apprentices. Jonathon Cleaver was in the studio today to show us around. 

Jonathan  joined the workshop in 2009. He studied at Edinburgh College of Art and did textile conservation before coming to Dovecot.  Often the weavers work side by side on a large commissioned tapestry. Each tapestry woven at Dovecot has the weavers’ mark and the Dovecot symbol woven into the piece. Naomi Robertson was not weaving today but has been with Dovecot over 20 years and David Cochrine over 25. 2012 is the 100th anniversary of Dovecot. A centenary exhibition is planned for July.  Several of the pieces currently on the looms will hang in that show.

Jonathan creates  tufted rugs with a machine that looks like a hand drill. But the tool both punches the yarn through a polyester canvas and cuts the yarn creating the pile surface. Power tufting is a much faster process than tapestry and allows for fluid motion and expression.
"Skater" tufted rug designed and made by Jonathon Cleaver
Dovecot tapestry

Travellers were turned loose in the old town of Edinburgh for the rest of the day to explore up and down the Royal Mile and  further afield in new town. I really don't know what they did! But all returned to the b&b tired and smiling!   
Two ever popular tourist venues in Edinburgh, the castle

and Greyfriar's Bobby

Annette and Max of Hotel Ceildh-Donia  host us during our Edinburgh stay. The beds are very comfortable and hospitality and breakfast top notch.

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