For a creative arts organisation to operate successfully in Australia for 40 years is an achievement in itself. The Australian Tapestry Workshop recently passed that milestone with flying colours. It has survived without compromising its artistic objective, whilst winning an international reputation for excellence. Established in 1976, the Workshop has been located since its earliest days in a marvellous building at 260 Park Street in South Melbourne. Built in 1885 as the Harcourt & Parry Emporium, it has enjoyed a colourful history as the Patross Knitting Mills and then the Gloria Glove Company. It was awakened to vibrant life as the Tapestry Workshop. The site was purchased by the Tapestry Foundation and relaunched by the Workshop in 2000, thanks to Dame Elisabeth Murdoch and the Myer family.
The Workshop produces woven tapestries on looms often of an enormous size using the finest Australian wool. Modelled on the Dovecot Tapestry Studio established in Edinburgh in 1912 by the Marquess of Bute, there is close collaboration and interaction between the artist, weaver and dyer. The results are famous for their vibrancy, technical accomplishment and interpretation of major Australian artists including Arthur Boyd, John Olsen, Imants Tillers, John Wolseley, Ginger Riley and Bronwyn Bancroft. Perhaps the Workshop’s most famous product hangs in the Great Hall of Federal Parliament. The Workshop is well worth a visit.
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