Tapestry is a curious form of artistic expression. It is constructed textile whose origins lie in a dim and distant past and whose present continues to evolve. Once a valued accompaniment to personal wealth and courtly prestige it adorned both public and private spaces, a backdrop of Arcadian scenes or a visual record of historic events displayed at a scale that was at one with the architectural wall: it covered the grimness and often greyness of stone with colour and shape.
As most of us live our lives on smaller scales and with the incessant movement and colour on the flat screen that has migrated to our walls from the box in the corner, the art of tapestry has moved into the art gallery. This contemporary space that has overtaken our public buildings and our places of worship, as places we visit in meditative quiet and make a slow procession from one marvel of making to another.
A whole exhibition of the art of contemporary tapestry demands an effective and spacious environment, one that can at best provide a mix of daylight and artificial light. Because of the size of individual pieces, rarely less than 100 x 100 cm, to look and take in the full effect there has to be distance: to stand back without distraction of other work. In this respect the curation of Here & Now, an exhibition of contemporary tapestry at the National Centre for Craft & Design was entirely successful. Eight countries, twenty-one artists and twenty-six tapestries was more than enough to occupy several slow hours of careful viewing.