'Fleece to Fibre: The Making of the ‘Large Tree Group’ Tapestry' comes to the Fleming Collection from Dovecot Studios and is based around Victoria Crowe’s celebrated painting, 'Large Tree Group' (1975) which was selected by Dovecot in 2012 to be transposed into tapestry as part of their centenary celebrations. Completed after hundreds of hours of careful work by Dovecot’s master weavers in collaboration with Victoria Crowe, the 'Large Tree Group' tapestry uses only un-dyed wool sourced and donated from around the country.
Curated by Ben Divall, 'Fleece to Fibre' explores the process behind the project, tracing the journey from sheep through to yarn and into the completed tapestry. Some seventy producers across Great Britain, from small-scale crofters to large estates, provided wool from a wide range of sheep breeds, the yarn spun by a range of specialists including individual spinners and small groups as well as commercial operations on a semi-industrial scale. The finished undyed yarn formed an entirely natural colour palette with which the weavers could work to create this unique collaborative tapestry.
A series of portraits by photographer Alicia Bruce will be on display alongside the tapestry, celebrating the diversity of those who have contributed behind the scenes. These range from the smallholdings of Debbie and Frank Harvey at ‘Lonelybield’ and the Broughton Spinners – a group of enthusiasts who regularly meet in the Scottish Borders – through to the large-scale farming of The Duke of Buccleuch at Bowhill and the commercial wool processing plant of The Natural Fibre Company in Cornwall, which processes fleeces from smallholdings across the UK. To celebrate the diversity of breeds involved in the tapestry, a series of sheep portraits by Paul Farnham, from the book 'Beautiful Sheep' by Kathryn Dun, will also be featured in the exhibition.