Archie Brennan: Tapestry as Modern Art

Archie Brennan, as told to Brenda Osborn

Available December 2021

$65.00


"I have been weaving tapestries for more than half a century. It is as much a part of my everyday as eating, sleeping—or dreaming. It is an utterly ordinary activity for me." One of the world’s most influential tapestry weavers, renowned for bringing "pop" into the ancient art of tapestry, Archie Brennan (1931–2019) had an exceptionally long career. Beginning in the mid-1940s and continuing into the first two decades of the 21st century, he pushed the boundaries of the medium, he developed a unique approach to weaving and tapestry design, and he influenced many people with his teaching style and outsized personality. This memoir, compiled with the assistance of weaver and former Wednesday Group member Brenda Osborn, provides the opportunity to pass his insights and his creative voice to a new generation of weavers. Let his incomparable voice explain why a dedication to weaving is worthwhile.

Size: 8 1/2" x 11" | 332 color images | 312 pp
ISBN13: 9780764362491

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Archie Brennan is a well known artist of the “Pop” genre of the 20th century and early 21st century who worked in handwoven tapestry. His tapestries are marked by a sense of humor that involves word play and commentary on popular culture, by a reverence for historical tapestries grounded in the technical givens of tapestry weaving, and by an insatiable curiosity expressed by his use of the phrase “What if…?” Born in Roslyn, Scotland, he lived near the Edinburgh College of Art and the Dovecot Tapestry Studio, which was the only working tapestry studio in the United Kingdom at that time. He became an apprentice weaver at the Dovecot at the age of 16, and went on to study art at the Edinburgh College of Art (now the University of Edinburgh) while he continued his apprenticeship in tapestry. He eventually developed and directed the tapestry department at the College, while also becoming the director of the Dovecot Studio. He served on several arts committees in the UK and was instrumental in the establishment of the Victorian Tapestry Workshop in Australia, now the Australian Tapestry Workshop. In recognition of his work promoting British art, he was knighted as an Officer of the British Empire in 1981. Brennan also participated in the design and building of a new parliament building in Papua New Guinea in the 1980s. He was head of the project to design and build the impressive sixty-foot-tall mosaic at the entrance to the building, and he designed and oversaw the creation of textiles that hang in several of the chambers within the building. Throughout his career, he wove over 500 tapestries. By the mid-1980s Archie began to focus solely on creating pieces for his own exploration, which he continued to the end of his life. He had a wonderful gift for teaching and has mentored many of today’s well established tapestry weavers.

Brenda Osborn began weaving four and a half decades ago. She has studied with Soyoo Park, and was in the Wednesday Group of tapestry weavers who met regularly at the studio of Archie Brennan and Susan Martin Maffei. It was during her tenure in the Wednesday Group that a few members suggested that Archie write a memoir. Brenda offered to help, and now you hold that book in your hands.