Art and Music      
Chianciano Biennale


Demons Yarns & Tales

Demons, Yarns & Tales sees fifteen internationally renowned artists

exploring an art form outside of their comfort zones. These

experiments with tapestries were conceived by luminaries such as Kara

Walker, Grayson Perry, Beatriz Milhazes and Fred Tomaselli and from

there it was over to a rural community north of Shanghai where an

entirely female team made the vision a reality using Flemish weaving

techniques. Now this fascinating collection of woven pieces has come

to The Dairy, a former milk depot turned grand warehouse gallery in



There is a subdued prejudice against tapestries, their aristocratic

intentions but dated perceptions point to a faded glory. These

depictions of war, country pursuits and tales of God inspired

Christopher and Suzanne Sharp of the arts commissioning organisation

Banners of Persuasion to kick start a revival of this forgotten



Three years in the making, this lost world addresses themes of

translation and transformation, where fictive landscapes sit side by

side with fashion and politics. The works are a translation of the

artist's familiar medium of paint and paper, ink and canvas, ceramics

or wood, into that of hand-woven stitch and silk thread.


It is important to note that none of these contemporary artists have

worked with tapestries before, making the project all the more

ground-breaking. As such, artist Francesca Lowe calls the art form "a

resurrected talisman from a bygone era". Indeed, the spectral faces in

her piece 'Trump' form a no mans land inhabited by spiritual ghosts,

and are certainly difficult to place. She continues: "But at the same

time, a tapestry is also a bit like a pixelated image. In that sense

it's also highly modern."


The largest and most awe inspiring tapestry is 'villa joe' by Paul

Noble, which looks like the dark side of the moon. It is in fact a

direct transfer of his meticulous graphite drawings of a fictional

city, Nobson Newtown. Naturally, this humorous piece of art would be

more suited to the castles of landed gentry than the sitting rooms of

a typical Londoner.


An ironic statement is noted in 'Mappa del Mundo', where the highest

form of craft is 'defaced' by a map of the world made out of pictures

of everyday discarded rubbish such as cigarette packs, beer cans and

crisp bags, surely commenting on wasteful globalisation. My personal

favourite is the haunting 'A Warm Summer Evening in 1863' by Kara

Walker, a scene from the end of the American Civil War in which the

background of racially charged mob rule is dominated by the black

silhouette of a lynched woman in the forefront.


Another tapestry that certainly stands out is 'Vote Alan Measles For

God' by Grayson Perry. Documenting a power struggle for the modern

day, this tapestry alludes to 9/ll, the hunt for Bin Laden and

Guantanamo. In the centre of the image is Perry's childhood teddy

bear, Alan Measles, wearing a suicide bomb: "a kind of Bayeux Tapestry

of the war on terror" comments Perry.


Exhibiting for twelve days only, these works have bought tapestry

kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Go and witness the first

fashion moment for this forgotten world since the Middle Ages.

Andrew Davies


Demons, Yarns & Tales, November 10th - 22nd, at The Dairy, 7 Wakefield

Street, WC1.


Art Social 15
Wellcome Trust
Royal Court Theatre
The Open College of the Arts
Mat Collishaw - New Art Gallery Walsall
The Holburne Museum