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On February 9th, coinciding with the ’40 Years of Contemporary Tapestry’ exhibition, the Australian Tapestry Workshop celebrated four decades of tapestry creation. With over 200 guests, the ATW brimmed with wonderful supporters, artists, weavers, guides, volunteers, TFA Trustees, Board Members and staff past and present.

The Chairman of the ATW Board of Directors, Mr John Ridley, opened the event by welcoming guests and acknowledging the traditional owners of the land. Mr Ridley spoke to the past 40 years of the ATW, highlighting a number of historical achievements and expressing his delight at the creative future and potential of the organisation.

ATW Patron Mr Baillieu Myer AC delivered an effervescent speech about his historical involvement with the ATW. Mr Myer launched the ATW Annual Appeal Give and Inch with a fundraising goal of $150,000. In the true spirit of giving, Mr Myer pledged to donate “10 rulers” to the 2017 campaign and jovially suggested that guests were welcome to “work out the maths for themselves”.

ATW Director Antonia Syme spoke about the ATW’s creative history and success:

“Not only have we survived, which is very tricky for not-for-profit arts organisations, let alone a tapestry workshop, but we have produced so many impressive tapestries during this exciting and sometimes challenging journey.

Many of our weavers who were here at the beginning are here tonight, and so are some of the many artists, architects and designers with whom we have collaborated to create our tapestries. Working with contemporary artists has been central to our existence, and still is.”

Ms Syme went on to thank ATW’s founding Director, Ms Sue Walker for her commitment and vision over 28 years, which paved the path for the creation of over 500 contemporary tapestries produced by the ATW to date. Ms Syme thanked Dame Elisabeth Murdoch, Baillieu Myer, Lady Delacombe, Sir Rupert Hamer, Jack Kennedy, Arnold Hancock, and the many others, on “their very bold and farsighted initiative turning 40”.

Ms Syme extended her thanks to the members of the ATW Board and Tapestry Foundation of Australia, past and present, acknowledged the support of the Pratt Foundation, the Victorian and Federal governments, Architecture Media, The Murdoch Family, The Myer and Gantner Families, Peter Walsh, The Besens, The Hancocks, The Robertsons, The Handburys, Jack Kennedy, Fiona Caro, Janet Calvert-Jones and the many supporters who have ensured the organisation’s survival. Ms Syme concluded her speech by recognising the tireless and endlessly valuable work of the ATW’s various volunteers and stating, “Thank you all so much for helping us celebrate this significant milestone and we look forward to celebrating our 50th anniversary.”

Against the beautiful backdrop of Janet Laurence’s recently competed ‘Listen, to the Sound of Plants’ tapestry, Mr Baillieu Myer AC and Ms Janet Calvert-Jones AO unveiled the Tapestry Foundation of Australia’s new Donor Board.

Rounded out with a fascinating pop-up talk from Master Weaver Sue Batten on experimental tapestry sampling, the evening came to a close as guests enthusiastically prophesised the undeniably exciting future of the Australian Tapestry Workshop.

Read ATW Chairman John Ridley's speech here.

Read Baillieu Myer AC's speech here.

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