Exhibitions & Profile: Dovecot Tapestry Studio

Low res_GarryFabianMiller_DovecotTapestryStudio_HearthRug_TheGoldenLight

Dovecot Tapestry Studio, based in Edinburgh, is a world-renowned producer of hand-woven tapestry and gun-tufted rugs. Continuing a century-long heritage of making and collaboration with leading international contemporary artists, the Studio weavers are dedicated to producing extraordinary works of art by commission from private and public collectors from around the globe.

Dovecot Foundation exists to champion Dovecot Tapestry Studio and its place in the world of contemporary art, design and making. The Foundation puts Dovecot Tapestry Studio at the heart of this mission in the support of the Dovecot Apprenticeship Programme, collaborations with leading artists from around the world and the development of cultural and educational partnerships. Ultimately, the Foundation seeks to bring the innovative work of contemporary artists and makers to a wider audience (see further).

Garry Fabian Miller Dwelling at Dovecot Gallery
15 May to 4 July 2015

Dwelling at Dovecot Gallery from 15 May to 4 July 2015 highlights the importance of home and its landscape to the work of Garry Fabian Miller. Alongside recent works by Fabian Miller, the exhibition will feature two new hearth rugs produced by Dovecot Tapestry Studio in collaboration with the artist, as well as explorations of the artist’s influences including important paintings by Winifred Nicholson.

Winifred Nicholson’s life of making, especially the strong relationship between art and home in the work she produced, has been of long-term interest to Fabian Miller. Dwelling offers new perspectives on the work of both artists by exploring, from Fabian Miller’s very personal standpoint, new and unexpected connections between them. Both artists have sought to express epic and transcendent ideas through their use of light and share a fine appreciation of craft. For Fabian Miller, light, particularly the light that flows in and out of his home and emanating from fire and hearth, has formed the focus of his recent work.

A key focus of Dwelling is Fabian Miller’s two new gun-tufted hearth rugs, Hearth Rug, The Golden Light and Hearth Rug, The Ruby Embers, both tufted by Dennis Reinmüller at Dovecot Tapestry Studio. Initial conversations between Dovecot Weaver Jonathan Cleaver and Fabian Miller in 2014 explored interests shared by the artist and Studio; craft processes, the textures of their materials, and the impact of colour.

Following discussion of the how Fabian Miller’s photographs would evolve in their translation into textile objects, samples were made to develop colour ranges and an approach to rendering the chosen images. Dwelling shows the diverse influences that have informed the design and creation of the hearth rugs and also marks the beginning of an on-going relationship with Dovecot – a larger tapestry project on the theme of the horizon is planned. Tapestry samples woven by Jonathan Cleaver from designs by Fabian Miller are also included in the exhibition.

Amongst works and objects of significance in Dwelling, is a ‘hooky rug’ titled Two Cats by the Fire made by Margaret Warwick in 1923 from the collection of Winifred Nicholson. Oil paintings by Nicholson are also exhibited; Consciousness painted in 1980 and an early work from 1927 titled Fire and Water. In Consciousness, light emanates from a central point just as in the circular forms represented in Fabian Miller’s displayed body of dye destruction photographic print works including Gaze and Exposure.

One of the most experimental and progressive figures in fine art photography, Fabian Miller has created large scale camera-less photographs since the mid-1980s. His pure pictures of light are as spiritually and emotionally profound as they are technically brilliant. With the coming of the digital age in photography, and the consequent discontinuation of Cibachrome paper essential to his photographic practice, Fabian Miller has taken the bold step to reach out from photography to explore new ways of making work. At a time of rapid change within photographic practice, Dwelling points to the influences that have shaped his past whilst also anticipating exciting new directions.

Supported by Creative Scotland and Dovecot Foundation.
DovecotGallery_BernatKlein_HighlandPool_1971Bernat Klein A Life in Colour at Dovecot Gallery
31 July to 26 September 2015

A Life in Colour is a retrospective exhibition featuring tapestries by Bernat Klein woven by Dovecot Studios, alongside other works by the designer whose signature vibrant mohair and tweed textiles were produced in the Scottish Borders for fashion houses in Europe.

Serbian-born Klein (1922-2014) studied textile technology at Leeds until 1948, after which he embarked upon a career designing woven textiles leading him to Edinburgh to work for Munrospun. In 1950 the company relocated to the Scottish Borders and two years later Klein established his own luxury textile enterprise, Colourcraft. Architect Peter Womersley was commissioned to modernise Colourcraft’s Netherdale Mill at Galashiels, and to design the award winning modernist house and studio near Selkirk where Klein remained until the end of his life.

As a reaction to the utilitarian and earthy colour schemes of 1950s Scottish fashion and interior textiles, colourist Klein embraced a bright new palette inspired by his natural surroundings. From his own Pointillist inspired oil paintings and designs for Chanel, Dior and Yves Saint Laurent fabrics, to the sumptuous furnishings and aspirational floral printed fashion synthetics seen in the iconic glamour photography of the 60s and 70s, colour technology was at the heart of Klein’s practice.

This eye for colour and design was applied to a variety of media by Klein, as illustrated in this exhibition of works spanning five decades, and including tapestries created in the 1970s with Dovecot.

Dovecot Gallery is proud to present this exhibition in recognition of the lasting contribution Klein made to Scotland’s international reputation for textile design and making.

Supported by Dovecot Foundation and part of Edinburgh Art Festival 2015.


The Gallery at Dovecot is open 10:30am to 5:30pm Monday to Saturday, and the Weaving Floor of the Tapestry Studio can be viewed Monday to Saturday 12noon to 3:00pm. Entry is free and there is a Shop and Café for visitors. More information www.dovecotstudios.com


The Dovecot Foundation was created in 2010 by Alastair and Elizabeth Salvesen in order to ensure the long term future of tapestry weaving in Scotland and to build on the legacy and archive of 100 years of Dovecot’s history. Originally established in 1912 by the 4th Marquess of Bute, Dovecot’s founding weavers John Glassbrook and Gordon Berry came from William Morris’ Merton Abbey Workshops. Their Arts and Crafts ethos and weaving skills have been passed on to generations of Dovecot Apprentices to the present day Dovecot Apprenticeship programme. Dovecot’s Master Weavers continue to collaborate with artists and designers on tapestry projects and commissions ensuring that the skill of tapestry weaving remains vibrant in the 21st Century.

The Dovecot symbol represents the 16th century stone pigeon house located in the grounds of the Studio’s first home in Corstorphine, Edinburgh. Faced with closure in 2000, Dovecot Tapestry Studio was re-established in the following year with philanthropic support from Alastair and Elizabeth Salvesen and directed by David Weir. The Studios temporarily occupied space at Donaldson’s School for the Deaf in Edinburgh before moving in 2008 to Infirmary Street following a two year renovation and restoration project of the former Victorian Swimming Baths.

Dovecot Tapestry Studio works with international artists, designers and commissioners who share the same passion for the creative arts and textile making. Since its inception in 1912, over 800 textile works have been created by the Dovecot Tapestry Studio weavers. Projects with artists including Alan Davie, Alison Watt and most recently Garry Fabian Miller, have seen tapestries and rugs produced for private commission and public collections worldwide. Collaborating with artists such as Ron Arad, Linder Sterling and Magne Furuholmen, who engage with performance, music and other media to create artworks, has further enhanced and pushed the boundaries of contemporary tapestry weaving and gun-tufting at the Studio.

Dovecot Gallery is a landmark centre for contemporary art, craft and design built around the Tapestry Studio. The Gallery in the heart of Edinburgh, works to programme, commission and produce exhibitions and events for audiences and clients who share Dovecot’s passion for making and the creative arts. Exhibitions of works by Craigie Aitchison, Magne Furuholmen, Garry Fabian Miller and Bernat Klein have showcased tapestries and rugs created in collaboration with Dovecot Tapestry Studio.

Text & image: Dovecot Tapestry Studio

Garry Fabian Miller, Hearth Rug, The Golden Light, tufted by Dennis Reinmuller at Dovecot Tapestry Studio, 2014
Dovecot Studios
Photo credit: Jim Cowan

Dovecot Tapestry Studio Weaving Floor, 2015
Dovecot Studios
Photo credit: Shannon Tofts

Dovecot Studios, Front of Building on Infirmary Street, Edinburgh
Dovecot Studios
Photo credit: Mike Wilkinson

Infirmary Street Baths, 1978, copyright Scotsman Publications Edinburgh
Dovecot Studios
Photo credit: Scotsman Publications

Infirmary Street Baths exterior, 1951, copyright Scotsman Publications Edinburgh
Dovecot Studios
Photo credit: Scotsman Publications

Bernat Klein, Scotland, pattern cover for Polo Rib Sweater and Coat in Bernat Klein No. 13 or 14, OP.170
Photo courtesy Bernat Klein estate, printed by Kenrick & Jefferson Ltd.

Bernat Klein, Highland Pool, 1971, cotton warp and wool tapestry, woven by Maureen Hodge, 99.1 x 99.1cm, National Museum of Scotland
Photo credit: National Museums Scotland

Bernat Klein, winding yarn at High Sunderland,
Photo credit: Peter Waugh

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