A tapestry hanging on a loom

Gordian Knot, Keith Tyson (2017)

UK artist and Turner Prize recipient, Keith Tyson’s Gordian Knot tapestry has been gifted to State Library Victoria by Elisabeth Murdoch.

This major work, a private commission by Elisabeth Murdoch, was cut from the loom by Janet Calvert-Jones AO, Chair, Tapestry Foundation of Australia on Wednesday 29 November 2017.

Kate Torney, State Library Victoria CEO, and Janet... cutting Gordian Knot from the loom.

Kate Torney, State Library Victoria CEO, and Janet Calvert-Jones AO, Chair, Tapestry Foundation of Australia cutting Gordian Knot from the loom.

“We are thrilled to accept Keith Tyson’s magnificent Gordian Knot tapestry into the Library’s collection for all Victorians to enjoy. This wonderful, intricate work beautifully showcases the skill and craftsmanship of local weavers and we’re incredibly grateful to Elisabeth Murdoch for her generous donation,” said State Library Victoria CEO Kate Torney.

Kate Torney, State Library Victoria CEO, and John Wiley AM, President of the Library Board of Victoria, looking at Gordian Knot.

Kate Torney, State Library Victoria CEO, and John Wiley AM, President of the Library Board of Victoria, looking at Gordian Knot.

Work started on the Gordian Knot tapestry in 2015 and has taken the team of weavers 2064 hours to complete. The tapestry is circular – the second circular tapestry undertaken by the Australian Tapestry Workshop –  with a 2.4 m diameter, and created in a combination of cotton, and Australian grown wool.  Weavers on this commission are Sue Batten, Chris Cochius, Pamela Joyce, and Milena Paplinska.

“Seeing the fantastic work was both inspiring and incredibly humbling. The labour and intricate craftsmanship is just awesome, the results vibrant and arresting. I do not see this as simply a diffusion of my painting but a new way of making an object in its own right,” said Keith Tyson.

“The generosity of Elisabeth Murdoch and Keith Tyson is to be applauded, and we are thrilled that this exquisite tapestry has a permanent home here in Victoria,” said Antonia Syme, Director, Australian Tapestry Workshop.

A rollercoaster on a tapestry

Detail of Gordian Knot, Keith Tyson (2017)

The Gordian Knot is a legend of Phrygian Gordium associated with Alexander the Great. It is often used as a metaphor for an intractable problem (disentangling an “impossible” knot) or “thinking outside the box” (cutting the Gordian knot”). In this design a central knot of fibres come together to form a modern-day Gordian Knot, biological, technological, cosmological, mythological and sociological evolutions all being woven together as a reflection of the world.

Keith Tyson (b.1969) is a British artist whose work is concerned with an interest in generative systems, and an embrace of the complexity and interconnectedness of existence. Tyson works in a wide range of media, including painting, drawing and installation. Tyson has received numerous awards and became the 18th recipient of the prestigious Turner Prize in 2002.


This article has 3 comments

  1. Is the tapestry currently on display for the public to view?

    • Hi Debbie,

      Thanks for the comment. The tapestry will be on display in 2018. We’ll let people know when it’s on display.

  2. Just viewed this incredible work in the Victoria State Library, Melbourne. Absolutely amazing detail. Every time you look at it, you see another element of the design. We found a snake, roses, a human arm, a rollercoaster, a plug, a usb cable, an octopus tentacle, ropes, wire cables, water ripples. The original painting must be impressive but the stitch work of this specially commissioned copy is superb.
    Wendy & Paul Brittain (UK)

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