Talented artist to pursue passion for weaving

A talented artist with a passion for ensuring that tapestry continues to weave its way into people’s hearts is the first apprentice to be funded as part of Allchurches Trust’s new heritage grants programme.

Allchurches announced earlier this year that it will give £114,000 to the Queen Elizabeth Scholarship Trust (QEST) to fund two scholars and an apprentice for three years and the first talented craftsperson to benefit is Elaine Wilson.

Elaine will complete a three-year apprenticeship with the renowned Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh, benefiting from a specialist learning experience in the skills required for tapestry weaving.

An experienced painter who studied at Edinburgh College of Art and still has her own practice, Elaine will learn different weaving techniques and be encouraged to explore her own creativity, bringing in her contemporary art experience, whilst gaining feedback and assistance from the Master Weaver and other experienced staff.

The Dovecot Tapestry Apprenticeship has always been integral to Dovecot’s operating structure since its inception in 1912. Elaine was selected as she had shown a long-term interest in becoming a Dovecot Apprentice.

Even though there have been few changes in tapestry weaving techniques from medieval times to the present day, tapestry is not a craft discipline that is stuck in the past. At Dovecot Studios, the weavers have collaborated with British artists such as David Hockney, Peter Blake and more recently Turner Prize winner, Chris Ofili.

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Master Weaver, Naomi Robertson, said: “Our collaborative approach to making tapestries helps to maintain the relevance and vitality of contemporary tapestry weaving.

“We are delighted to have the opportunity to capture Elaine’s knowledge and interest in the contemporary art scene in Edinburgh and, with her long-term ambitions to stay as a member of the Dovecot tapestry team, she brings an enthusiastic energy to the Studios.”

Elaine added: “With formal education routes into tapestry now so few and far between, it’s so important that Dovecot continues to offer a high-quality apprenticeship programme for current and future weavers; ensuring that traditional weaving skills are handed down and that tapestry is embraced in contemporary culture, inspiring and delighting future generations.

“I feel hugely privileged that the funding from Allchurches Trust is helping me to fulfil my dream of working there. It’s a very special place and a stunning building in which to continue to learn my craft.”

Allchurches announced earlier this year that it is stepping up its support for the protection of the UK and Ireland's heritage by funding three ambitious projects as part of a new heritage grants programme; all with a focus on preserving traditional skills.

As well as the grant to QEST, Historic England has been awarded a £471,091 grant over three years to create six new Historic Environment Advice Assistant (HEAA) heritage apprenticeships. Allchurches is also giving £177,400 over three years to fund an archaeology field school at the former Cistercian Abbey site of Strata Florida in Wales. The school is being developed in partnership between the Strata Florida Trust and the Prince’s Foundation and will open in August 2019. Bookings are now being taken.

Caroline-and-Elaine.jpg#asset:1094Allchurches trustee Caroline Banszky with Elaine Wilson and Naomi Robertson