I’ve always been mostly a traditionalist. Perhaps it’s my father’s ancient English roots or perhaps my mother’s lineage of fine dressmaking. I think it is actually the combination of this history paired with the circumstances of my own life that have formed my affiliation with the traditional. In Australia life is easy, being outside is a huge part of any childhood, and the architecture is, frankly, for the most part basic.
Perhaps if I grew up in the ornately decorated, centuries old Sussex farmhouse that my father did I’d be as tired of tradition as he… No, I’m sure not! But life in Australia isn’t traditional and I long for the rich history of tradition, the warmth and comfort of truly cosy spaces, and the beauty of design and detail that has developed over the course of hundreds and hundreds of years with many talented mingling hands adding their bit.
Over the past 18 months I’ve found myself noticing tapestries in my travels. I can envisage them working well in so many varied spaces. The lovely thing about them is that they not only decorate a room just as art might do, but they also add warmth and texture, and in this way soften a space – not just aesthetically but also acoustically (nothing worse than a big echo-y room!). I particularly like antique French and Belgian examples that tend to be of blue and rich cream colourways and would sit perfectly in either contemporary or classic spaces.
Sometimes I do feel that people miss out on the benefits of traditionalism because they’re overwhelmed with the intensity of a space that is purely traditionalist. I find that for the most part an amazing piece can work wonders all by itself in even the most simple of spaces. In fact, it’s in these spaces that an individual collected can really item sing.
I think an overarching attitude of ‘all-or-nothing’ is the reason that it’s not easy to find precedents of these beautiful pieces in pared back or more contemporary spaces, but the last image is a good example and shows how versatile a tapestry can be if you open your mind up to the possibilities of a creative design approach (that needn’t follow any set rules).