Handwoven at The Australian Tapestry Workshop (ATW) by colleagues Pamela Joyce, Sue Batten, Amy Cornall, Tim Graham, and Jennifer Sharpeover, The Royal Harvest tapestry is designed by Naomi Hobson, an indigenous First Nations Southern Kaantju-Umpila artist from the small town of Coen in the tuft of land known as Cape York peninsula in Far North Queensland, Australia.
Woven over a period of 1,400 hours or approximately six months, the 2.05m x 2.8m tapestry is destined to hang in the foyer of the Australian embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia. The Royal Harvest is woven with Australian wool using the Gobelin technique in which the design is created by tightly packed discontinuous weft fibres which allow the design to build gradually as weft fibres seldom pass completely from one side of the tapestry to the other. Hobson’s colourful design is captured with a base palette of 368 colours created by the ATW master dyer. The weaving team created samples that varied warp, scale and colour relationships, and discussed these with Hobson before the final creative direction was agreed.
Well known for her colourful abstract paintings inspired by the culture and lands of her ancestors, Hobson’s tapestry features layered form and patterns and represents she says, ‘the bounty …from ancient trade between my people in Cape York and Indonesians’. Cape York is close geographically and culturally to islander neighbours in the Torres Strait body of water that separates the continent of Australia from the island of New Guinea and nearby Indonesia. She describes the shapes in her tapestry as suggestive of trade movements while the colours capture the energy, joy, abundance and excitement created by cultural trade.
The artist was commissioned to design a tapestry in honour of Arnold Hancock OBE, former chair of ATW, who supported promoting Australian creativity via tapestries designed by indigenous artists for display in Australia’s foreign embassies. The Royal Harvest is the tenth in this series of embassy tapestries woven by ATW. It will be ceremonially cut from the loom by His Excellency Gary Quinlan AO and members of the Myers and Hancock families whose funds and foundations financially supported the weaving.