It is with great sadness that we farewell our Emeritus Trustee and former Chairman Arnold Hancock OBE who passed away recently.

Arnold's visionary thinking, his passionate and unstinting commitment to the ATW over fourdecades and his gentle diplomacy and sagacity will be deeply missed by the staff and the Board of the Australian Tapestry Workshop.

Our deepest condolences to Pat and the Hancock family.


The following text is adapted from Sue Walker's essay in the book Many Hands: The First 40 Years of the Australian Tapestry Workshop:

Arnold Hancock OBE has been a towering figure in the history of the ATW. His first formal contact with the workshop was in 1984 when, as the newly appointed chairman of the State Bank of Victoria, he became involved in commissioning a large tapestry for the bank.

Following on from that commission he encouraged the initiation of many further commissions and attracted generous support for the ATW through his enthusiastic advocacy.

He served as a board member from 1987 to 2001 and Chair from 1989 – 1993.Hancock’s great strength lay in his understanding of the workshop’s position as a business in the arts and the critical need to sensitively balance commercial reality with artistic excellence. He understood absolutely the threats to the workshop’s existence in a world where labour-intensive industries struggled to break even and survive.

Hancock’s visionary thinking resulted in some far-reaching initiatives. He recognised the need for a foundation that could act as a tax-deductible conduit for donations. He set about establishing the TFA. From June 1995 until June 2003 he chaired the foundation and he remained a trustee until 2007. He instituted the Hancock Fellowship with a donation he received when he retired from his official duties with the Myer family companies. Every two years this enables the workshop to enrich its activities by bringing an international artist or scholar to lecture or participate with the weavers.

Together with Gordon Darling, Hancock initiated a scheme to place ATW tapestries in Australian diplomatic posts overseas. Unable at that time to win support from Australian government sources, he raised money from private donors, including Darling and others, for the weaving of the first of nine tapestries from the work of Indigenous artists that are hanging in our posts overseas.

Through these initiatives and many more Hancock has added richly to the success and longevity of the ATW and helped to take it down unexpected paths. His personal interest in art, his extensive management experience, his visionary mind, his sensitive diplomacy and exceptional generosity of spirit and excitement have all contributed profoundly to Australian tapestry.


Click here to read a tribute to Arnold Hancock OBE from Monash University

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