Personal statement from Archie Brennan
Quite simply the practice of woven tapestry has been an obsessive passion my entire adult life. It is my creative language, and I love-hate-delight- and struggle with it each day, all day. In a unique manner it is a vehicle to convey concept, comments, harmony, discord, rhythm, growth and form. Simply put, it is what I do. That tapestry today is widely regarded as a minor art form leaves me unconcerned. This is someone else’s problem. In medieval Europe, pre-Columbian Peru and Coptic Egypt, tapestry was supreme. Five hundred years ago it was already extremely sophisticated- aesthetically, technically and in diversity of purpose. Today its lack of defined purpose – its rarity – gives me opportunity to seek new roles, to extend its historic language and above all to dominate my compulsive drive.
In 1967, I made a formal decision to step away from the burgeoning and exciting fiber arts movement and to refocus on woven tapestry’s long-established graphic pictorial role. My belief was and still is that tapestry had foundered into an imitative, reproductive process. In spite of a few notable exceptions, the technical virtuosity of the eighteenth – twentieth century became a serious and sorry disadvantage. Tapestry was merely a servant to painters and paintings.