For those of you who did not get a chance to see the beautiful re-weave of the River Mat, we thought you might enjoy this photograph of the finished product! Towards the end of 2010 David was asked by John Voysey, the grandson of C.F.A. Voysey, [one of the most prominent and influential architects and designer of carpets, textiles, wallpaper etc in the late 19th / early 20th century Arts and Craft style], to weave a carpet in the design of `The River Mat’. John remembered the rug from his childhood and that it had been sold by his family and finally ended up in America.
The River Mat was first exhibited in The Arts and Crafts exhibition society in 1903 described as a hearth rug. A quaint panoramic design probably more suited to hang on the wall; it was described by E.W. Gregory writing in the Art Workers quarterly as a harmonious piece of colouring but simply a tour de force in point of design. Another critic writing in The Studio described a “hearth rug treated boldly in a pictorial manner, but without scale or perspective so as to form a kind of Chinese landscape, centring on a river with ships and full of objects to delight young people playing before the fire. John thinks that his grandfather may have drawn the point paper pattern of this size to be sold and used by home weavers on simple upright looms using ready available coloured wools from retail wool suppliers.
John had already done some research and had discovered that the original point papers were in the Royal institute of British Architects archive that is housed at the Victoria and Albert Museum and had sometime before been photographed for publication. They agreed to let us have copies of these and very kindly scanned the photographs in high resolution. For the first time in 25 years of weaving David used someone else’s point paper drawing. He found the point papers truly wonderful; showing a complete lack of regard for scale of perspective and a very significant understanding of naivety that is magical. They were drawn by an artist who fully understood the English country vernacular and, one imagines, was having some fun.
Colouring for the rug nearly turned into a nightmare of trying too hard, but in the end David went to his dye studio in Bulgaria and over a 4 day period working with long time business partner Nino Parpolov, made the colouring from our library of dyed colours. One of our most experienced weavers took nearly 3 months to weave the carpet at about 90,000 knots per square meter, as per the original.
We are waiting to hear from the V & A regarding an offer John has made to exhibit the new rug and Voysey’s original point paper. We wonder if Voysey’s work has ever had a good outing at exhibition? Like many of his time he is over-shadowed by William Morris.