Banners of Persuasion

Banners of Persuasion is an arts commissioning organisation set up in 2008 by Christopher and Suzanne Sharp, founders of The Rug Company.

‘Demons, Yarns & Tales’

When we invited a group of internationally renowned artists to explore a medium foreign to their usual practice, we were asking them to take a voyage into the unknown, leaving their area of comfort to work in unfamiliar territory. The medium was that of Tapestry; a lost art made redundant by the sheer expense of its production and non-compliance within a world impatient to conform to the ease of mass-production in an era of convenience. The art of Tapestry and the knowledge of its craft faded long ago in much the same way as the magnificent tapestries themselves disintegrated.

The exhibition is an experiment within this lost world and addresses themes of translation and transformation. The works pose visual and tactile questions concerning the translation of meaning. Three years in the making, the exhibition reveals the shifting transformation of each artist’s unique visual style from his or her known medium into the uncharted and the unknown. Initially, the physical medium itself becomes apparent and appears engaging and challenging. The artist is preoccupied with technical matters: unfamiliar colours, the texture of the material, the properties of the different 'threads' and the complexity of the weave. Then, as the work develops, the new medium begins to contribute to, rather than compromise, the finished work; giving birth to a thoroughly contemporary art form, evolving naturally from its historical past. The handwoven setting proves itself to be an alternative 'soft' canvas; warm, tactile, able to represent ideas and images on a vast scale, both in terms of imagination and physical presence.

The notion of Tapestry, an art form with a complex and well-documented past, is thereby transformed, enabling us to reconsider it as an illuminating and revelatory format for today's world.

Christopher Sharp