Featured Tapestries

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St George tapestry

John Coburn (1925-2006), more than any other Australian artist, displayed a true affinity with the tapestry medium. He lived and worked in France in the late 1960s and early 1970s, collaborating with the renowned French workshop Aubusson. The establishment of the ATW (then the Victorian Tapestry Workshop) allowed him to shift production and commence ongoing tapestry collaboration on home soil. The Workshop produced more than 25 tapestries based on Coburn’s designs, including works for Parliament House in Brisbane, National Australia Bank, Monash Medical Centre and many private and corporate collections.

In this tapestry, a commission for St George Building Society, Coburn wields his menagerie of anthropomorphic forms: a simplified vernacular of motifs like birds’ wings or fish tails interspersed with abstract shapes. The composition is carefully constructed so that no forms overlap, but are arranged on a velvety ground as if they were object specimens laid for a naturalist’s view. Coburn’s curvilinear forms, however deceptively simple, were a challenge for weaving.