Featured Tapestries

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Concerning the wading birds of the Warrnambool wetlands

This tapestry, which is a commission for Warrnambool Base Hospital, is based on a watercolour by John Wolseley. The artist, whose work can be found in all of Australia’s state galleries as well as numerous other public and private collections, has previously worked with the ATW on two major tapestries, most recently Fire and watermoths, swamps and lava flows of the Hamilton region commissioned by the Hamilton Art Gallery in celebration of its 50th birthday in 2011.

Wolseley’s sensitivity to regional natural environments, which is so evident in Fire and water, is also readily apparent in the new work. This work grew out of his personal exploration of the wetlands and lakes of south west Victoria.

The original watercolour includes evocative and beautifully-rendered details of native flora and fauna with a focus on representative birds from the region, particularly shore birds of the Warrnambool coast. It also references American artist Helen Frankenthaler, who died late last year.

While benefiting from the established relationship between the designing artist and weavers, which grew out of their past collaborations, this project presented its own challenges. For example, there was the difficulty of capturing the delicate watercolour marks without making the tapestry overly complicated. The artist and weavers also had to make crucial decisions about the palette, deciding to use colours in the tapestry that were slightly stronger and more intense than in the watercolour.

The mysterious and inviting realm that Wolseley has created will serve as a place for contemplation and escape for those who may be dealing with difficult health situations, while the sheer beauty and life energy of the work will engage the broad cross-section of the community who pass through the hospital’s doors.