I was invited by Andrew Printer to create a “tapestry” for the Summer Salon Series: Beyond the Banner at the San Diego Museum of Art as part of the Quilt Conversation in conjunction with the display of "The Invention of Glory: Afonso V and the Pastrana Tapestries." It was part of a multi-layered performance and visual art event that began in June and concluded on August 31, at the San Diego Museum of Art.
The Quilt Conversation concluded a summer-long quilting project focused on the 1980’s with a multi-layered 30-minute finale. The finale being both a visual display of the various art quilts and tapestries and a performance that depicts/acts out the makings of the quilts/tapestries and the decade of Ronald Reagan, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the emergence of AIDS and is historicised by a cast of contemporary dancers and improvisational actors as it was filtered through the summer’s quilt making and tapestry artists. The project is intended to reflect on the loose nature and the messy business of history making, as does the actual Pastrana Tapestry.
My tapestry is primarily created from red cotton fabric and sheer silk organza, it measures 72 inches long by 45 inches wide. The construction of the tapestry employed red cotton thread, red silk thread, India Ink, black cotton thread, a digital photographic print on silk organza and red buttons and was hand sewn.
My individual tapestry attempts to depict the frailty of the body, memory and of history, in so much that history is all to often written by the victor and not the victims ( as is the case with the The Invention of Glory: Afonso V and the Pastrana Tapestries, it is written-woven by the victor not the victims). In relationship to war our bodies become a constant battleground between us (the body) and the outside world of injuries, germs, bacteria, and viruses and that this battle intensifies with age. Also of concern here are those who attempt to record history and either unintentionally or intentionally reshape the history and thus the collective and individual memories of such events and in fact is what and how we do this same action with ourselves, in our own personal histories.
A Little History About The Pastrana Tapestries
The Pastrana Tapestries are among the finest surviving Gothic tapestries. The Invention of Glory: Afonso V and the Pastrana Tapestries will feature the recently restored set of four monumental tapestries that commemorate the deeds of Afonso V, King of Portugal.
Woven in the late 1400s, these monumental tapestries, each measuring 12 by 36 feet, depict Afonso V’s conquest in 1471 of the Moroccan cities of Asilah and Tangier, located near the entrance to the Strait of Gibraltar. They are among the rarest and earliest examples of tapestries created to celebrate what were then contemporary events, instead of allegorical or religious subjects. The designer minimized the misery of warfare, reinventing the event with the heroic image of Afonso and the ideals of chivalry in mind. Exquisitely rendered in wool and silk threads by Flemish weavers in Tournai, Belgium, the tapestries teem with vivid and colorful images of knights, ships, and military paraphernalia set against a backdrop of maritime and urban landscapes.
Since the 17th century the tapestries have been the property of the Collegiate Church of Our Lady of the Assumption in Pastrana, Spain, 50 miles east of Madrid. Because of their outstanding quality and historical significance, the Spanish government listed them as cultural patrimony to be safeguarded during the Spanish Civil War. Only one of the four tapestries has previously travelled to the U.S. The conservation of these tapestries received the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage/Europa Nostra Awards 2011.