The BTG website carries a very clear definition of what woven tapestry is - and what it is not. The reason for putting this definition in place was to help the public differentiate between those textiles which embellished a woven fabric (embroidery and needlepoint) and those where the image is hand woven into the structure of the fabric (woven tapestry) using techniques developed during the Middle Ages which remain largely unchanged today.
However, calls for submissions for BTG's exhibitions, whilst emphasising the need for entrants to conform to that definition, encourage innovation and exploration under the guise of what is called 'contemporary' tapestry. The results, which can be seen online in artists' Showcases as well as exhibition catalogues, are not only a rich diversity of weaving styles developed within the boundary of 'traditional techniques' but also, in some cases, such a flexible interpretation of tapestry weaving as to step away from the definition altogether into the realms of what might best be described as 'constructed textiles'.
This is not new. In the last century the works of textile artists such as Tadek Beutlich and Theo Moorman, whilst originating in traditional tapestry weaving techniques, leave them far behind.
Which raises a number of questions: should organisations promoting tapestry weaving through exhibitions be more attuned to their definitions of the craft when selecting, if diversity and innovation are sought should they be honest about the nature of those exhibits which go beyond the definition of woven tapestry by describing them as woven tapestry AND constructed textiles or should the definition of woven tapestry be re-examined in the light of contemporary practice over the past 100 years?
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