His National Gallery show, Weaving Magic, is good news for those of us who like art that is lovely to look at. By Martin Gayford
Many of the mediums from which art is made have been around for a long time. People have been painting on walls, for example, for about 40,000 years. Similarly, figures have been fashioned out of stone and metal for millennia, and still are. But if there is one ancient medium you might think was now definitely over and out, it would be tapestry.
But no! In this era of artificial intelligence and omniscient Google, the ancient practice of painstakingly twining coloured wool into pictures is undergoing an unexpected revival. The latest contemporary artist to give tapestry a go is Chris Ofili. His exhibition Weaving Magic at the National Gallery gives some clues as to why he — and other figures such as Grayson Perry, Marc Quinn and Craigie Horsfield — find it appealing.
Image: Chris Ofili, The Caged Bird's Song, 2014–2017
Wool, cotton and viscose
Triptych, left and right panels each 280 x 184 cm; centre panel 280 x 372 cm
Installation view, Chris Ofili: Weaving Magic, National Gallery, 26 April – 28
© Chris Ofili. Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London, The Clothworkers’ Company and Dovecot Tapestry Studio, Edinburgh. Photography: Gautier Deblonde