Craft, Design, Tapestry, Textile Design, Weaving

Marta Rogoyska and a Theatre of Images

Recently I picked up a vintage copy of ‘Crafts’ Magazine (no.63 July/August 1983). I was attracted to it because of the bright, characterful design on the cover. The image was both full of energy and fun but also showed restraint, control and elegant minimalism. I had to find out more.

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The tapestry is by Marta Rogoyska. The famously outspoken, charismatically assertive artist and craftsperson, one of the most acclaimed and feted weavers in Britain before moving to the United States in 1995. She describes her approach to tapestry as unpretentious and concise, the mediums idiosyncrasy providing opportunities to create speculative and aesthetically spontaneous work. Her aim being to simply, “engage and intrigue the viewer.”

Excerpted from Tapestry, A Woven Narrative, Black Dog Press, 2011 accessed from http://martarogoyska.com/updatesnews/

Intrigued I certainly am by her monumental tapestries, and filled with admiration for the commitment, physical exertion and imagination that goes into them.

The article, ‘Theatre of Images: Marta Rogoyska, tapestry weaver, interviewed by Ian Starsmore’ published in Crafts Magazine 1983, makes a very interesting read. Rogoyska’s passion for the medium of weaving is obvious through taking one glance at her work. But what is especially impressive is how she brought a vigorous energy and love of drama to a medium that could too easily be misunderstood and under estimated, “weaving was not the usual thing for anyone who was dynamic.”

 

Rogoyska finds inspiration from a variety of sources and we learn that she keeps small sketchbooks filled with ideas, decorative schemes, landscapes which provide starting points for tapestries. Examples of sources of inspiration, include early french tapestries, primitive art, modern painting, music, theatre, ideas about story-telling, a feeling for life and for an audience.

In comparing tapestry to painting, Rogoyska identifies some interesting distinctions between the two.

“You have to be twenty times more alert, twenty times more intelligent and twenty times harder on yourself than in painting, so that you bloody well unpick what has taken you two days to do if it’s wrong”

“ Because tapestry has to be done in a strict sequence from the bottom upwards, you have to be more visionary too, very much in the sense that you must visualise what is coming and what has been. You are committed and there is no going back. I see its affinities with life so much, balancing on this crazy tightrope, trying to be intelligent about the future, learn from the past and very much involved in the present.”

Her work therefore takes elements from what are usually known as craft, design or art, as she decides. “The division between art and craft presents fascinating issues which for me are living arguments, positive things which I use and enjoy. It’s possible then to step down on either side as it suits, though you are hated on both sides. I’m prepared to shout and bang a few tables, but I don’t have any set rules. These are things I’m redefining the whole time.”

‘Theatre of Images: Marta Rogoyska, tapestry weaver, interviewed by Ian Starsmore’ published in Crafts Magazine 1983

Images accessed from http://martarogoyska.com

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