© Chris Ofili. The Caged Bird's Song (detail), 2014-2017. Wool, cotton, and viscose. Courtesy the artist, Victoria Miro London, The Clothworkers' Company, and Dovecot Tapestry Studio, Edinburgh. Photography by Stephen White.
The Caged Bird's Song
Designed by the Turner Prize-winning artist, Chris Ofili CBE, and hand-woven by the internationally renowned Dovecot Tapestry Studio in Edinburgh, The Caged Bird's Song is one of our newest acquisitions. It was commissioned by The Clothworkers’ Company in 2014 as a statement of our support for our root craft and desire to protect endangered skills in textiles.
Dovecot is one of only two surviving tapestry studios in the UK, and it took a team of five master weavers more than two-and-a-half years to translate Ofili's watercolour design to the loom, interpreting, replicating, and magnifying each and every colour and nuance with great skill and artistry. The commission necessitated close collaboration between artist and maker(s), in what Ofili has described as a ‘marriage of watercolour and weaving’.
The three panels together measure some 7.5m wide by 2.8m high. It is a bold and vibrant triptych that draws on Ofili's ongoing interests in classical mythology and contemporary demi-gods, and is inspired by the stories, magic, and colour of the Trinidadian landscape Ofili inhabits.
The tapestry was installed at Clothworkers’ Hall, its permanent home, in 2017, immediately following its first public exhibition in Chris Ofili: Weaving Magic at The National Gallery, London.
The Caged Bird's Song, 2014-2017. Wool, cotton, and viscose. © Chris Ofili. Courtesy the artist, Victoria Miro London, The Clothworkers' Company, and Dovecot Tapestry Studio, Edinburgh. Photography by Stephen White. [CLC/TN/011]
A wonderful counterpoint to Ofili’s magnificent design is the set of three 18th-century Cyrus tapestries that adorn our Grand Staircase.
The Cyrus Tapestries were designed by Maximilian de Haese and woven in the workshops of the Van Der Borght family in Brussels between 1771 and 1775. They were commissioned for Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, whose arms were subsequently applied to each panel. These tapestries, which originally formed part of a set of five, tell the story of Cyrus, founder of the Persian Empire. The third and fourth panels are now in the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston) and the Victoria and Albert Museum (London) respectively.
Please consult our online catalogue for further details of our holdings.
'The Marriage of Mandane to Cambyses', tapestry from the Van den Borght workshop, 1771-1775 [CLC/TN/001]
'The Recognition of Cyrus by Astyages', tapestry from the Van der Borght workshop, 1771-1775 [CLC/TN/002]
'The Restoration of the Temple Treasures by Cyrus', tapestry from the Van der Borght workshop, 1771-1775 [CLC/TN/003]