Bicentennial Tapestry "Muswellbrook"

Max Watters Muswellbrook 1987/8 wool on cotton warp Muswellbrook Shire Art Collection image used courtesy of the artist

The tapestry is based on an oil painting on cardboard by local artist Max Watters and it depicts his interpretation of the Muswellbrook townscape. The weaving was carried out during 1988 by a team of eight weavers who, while remaining faithful to the initial image, have interpreted it into a work measuring 153 cms (H) x 245 cms (W) , demonstrating the traditional weft face tapestry weaving process.

Date: 1987/8
Designed by: Max Watters
Interpretation: Peter Gill
Media: wool on cotton warp
Weavers: Gwen Stowe, Nanette Wynn, Josette Leibeck, Win Lonergan, Peter Gill, Betty Melichar, Cathy Bryant, Jan Johnson.

Pure wool was selected for the project and some 2,000 metres was used to weave the sky area alone. There are 560 cotton warp ends across the width of the piece and they form the ‘skeleton’ upon which the weaving was actually done.

A total of 3,400 man hours was spent on the actual weaving of the tapestry. This does not include the three months taken to do the initial painting and drawing by Max Watters: the time spent designing the loom and selecting the various coloured wools: four months drawing up the full size ‘cartoon’ by Max Watters and Peter Gill: the various workshops and pre-weaving projects which were undertaken by the weavers during 1987, before starting work on the actual tapestry: the many hours spent in sorting, bobbin winding, replying of wool to produce a working “palette of fifty-one colours”, the development of techniques which would ensure continuity of interpretation and craftsmanship and the list goes on.

Peter Gill weaving the tapestry in the early stagesTo quote from Sue Walker, Director of the Victorian Tapestry Workshop:

“Tapestry has something unique to offer. Not as an adaptation of something, but as an art form in its own right. Tapestry … invites the senses as well as the mind to delight.”

Peter Gill
Muswellbrook Regional Art Gallery, Director; 1986-1999
Muswellbrook Regional Arts Centre, Curator; 2000-2010

The Bicentennial Tapestry Project was funded by the NSW Bicentennial Council and Muswellbrook Shire Council.

View this tapestry at the Muswellbrook Shire Council Administration Centre - 157 Maitland Rd, Muswellbrook.