29 April 2022 — Writing

Three questions with Dovecot Studios

As the world enters into the space that is deep dive (pause) uncoiling memory, we’re back from the most triumphant opening week in Venice and enjoying moments of reflection and deep thought on this historic work by Alberta Whittle.

With both URL & IRL audiences invited to pause and blanket themselves with the comfort that Alberta offers in response to human grief and loss, our thoughts turn to the woven tapestry that greets visitors upon entering the exhibition in Venice.

Crafted in Edinburgh by Dovecot Studios, and lovingly beaded by hand in Scotland and Venice by Alberta, the tapestry Entanglement is more than blood is a masterpiece that tells a haunting story of the lives, hopes, and dreams lost through racism and slavery. However, like much of Alberta’s work, the spirit of compassionate resistance is ever present and collaboration becomes a means by which she offers compassion and power to all that work with her.

In this installment of our ‘Three questions with’ series we’re engaging a moment of digital pause with Naomi Robertson, Head Weaver at Dovecot Studios.

What are you most excited about for deep dive (pause) uncoiling memory?

I’m most excited about seeing the tapestry installed in the exhibition space, in such a fantastic city as Venice. Seeing it in the environment it was originally intended for, as opposed to in the studio, will be very special indeed. I’m also excited to see how the tapestry works alongside the other pieces in the exhibition and how it communicates Alberta’s vision.

How has working with Alberta impacted you?

Working with Alberta has challenged the Dovecot weavers in a number of ways. We have had to adapt to working with new materials (maritime rope) and constructing a shaped tapestry, with beads and embellishments threaded onto it. It’s suspended in a completely different way and has pushed us to work with new techniques, for example in unpicking the tapestry to reveal it’s constructed shape.

Do you make intentional time to pause?

For me, weaving is my intentional time to pause. Although I’m moving and active while at the loom, weaving gives me space and time completely separated from ‘normal’ time.

Dovecot Studios is a world-renowned tapestry studio in the heart of Edinburgh and a landmark centre for contemporary art, craft and design. Dovecot Studios are co-commissioning and co-producing a tapestry as part of the presentation. They are currently contributing to the overall production costs as well as supporting through substantial staff time and costs throughout production. Dovecot are also managing the production budget for the tapestry.