Bathurst Regional Art Gallery Tapestry Commission

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BRAG has commissioned The Australian Tapestry Workshop to create a tapestry by artist Luke Sciberras in celebration of 50 years of fundraising by Bathurst Regional Art Gallery Society (BRAGS).

‘In 2019 BRAGS celebrates 50 years of continual support of the Bathurst Regional Art Gallery,’ says Max Wilson, President of BRAGS. ‘The BRAGS Committee is thrilled to support the commissioning of Bridle Track, Hill End tapestry designed by Luke Sciberras and woven at the Australian Tapestry Workshop to mark 50 years of fundraising for BRAG.’

 ‘Luke Sciberras is an artist with deep connections to the Bathurst region and Hill End’, says Sarah Gurich, Director, BRAG. ‘The commissioning of the Bridle Track, Hill End tapestry marks a significant acquisition for BRAG, and I thank the Australian Tapestry Workshop, the BRAGS Committee, and the artist Luke Sciberras for their enthusiasm for this project.’

Sciberras resides in Hill End, New South Wales, a region he considers a significant site in Australian modern art. The historic former gold- mining village has a long association with many noted Australian artists including Russell Drysdale, Margaret Olley, John Olsen AO OBE and Brett Whiteley and boasts the Hill End Artists in Residence Program overseen by BRAG. Sciberras began visiting the region in 1990s and locating there permanently in 2000.

On 24 June 2019 Sciberras visited the ATW during the vital design development phase to discuss the experimental tapestry samples and his watercolour tapestry design. The weaving of experimental tapestry samples gives the ATW weavers an opportunity to explore vision, scale, texture and technique as well as work with our in-house specialist dyer to create new colours. The loom for the Bridle Track, Hill End tapestry is now warped and ready for weaving to commence.

It is expected that the tapestry will take two months to weave. The tapestry will be the centrepiece of Threads through art: Australian artist tapestries, an exhibition of tapestries to be held at BRAG from 18 October – 1 December 2019.

Design for the Bridle Track, Hill End tapestry, designed by Luke Sciberras, woven by Chris Cochius and Karlie Hawking, 1.6 x 1.6m, wool, cotton. Image: courtesy of the artist.

 Artist Statement

“For more than twenty years I have travelled up and down the famous and precarious Bridle Track from Hill End. It is a vast and wild landscape stretching between Hill End and Bathurst which can only be traversed by four-wheel drive as the very old hand-built road has many twists and ruts, but that is part of its appeal.

In this enormous no-mans-land of common, crown lands and abandoned farms the Macquarie and Turon rivers meet, and the road rises and falls from the crossings and causeways as dramatically as a roller coaster. And so, over the years it has been a painter’s playground, another magical and various district which mercifully remains uninhabited and therefore seems wonderfully mysterious.

Being on the doorstep of my home at Hill End I have perennially used it as the source of many paintings and have hosted many memorable expeditions along its often-hair-raising trail with fellow artists such as Elisabeth Cummings, John Olsen, Anne Zahalka, Tamara Dean, Ben Quilty and Guy Maestri just to name a handful.

My studio at Hill End is the former Methodist Church built in 1870, and right next door is the community nurse. For a number of years this nurse was the estimable Jim Schumacher and as neighbours and on occasions as his patient we became rather friendly, indeed Jim was most helpful when I developed myocarditis some years back a subject on which Jill Margo wrote a well-known article in the Australian

Financial Review… year in and year out Jim and I would chat over the fence, and increasingly I noticed Jim’s interest in my work grew more and more keen, indeed we developed a mutual respect for each other’s work.

On the sad occasion that Jim announced his moving on the village felt the loss most sorely and many gestures of farewell were made on his departure. Mine was to gift him a work on paper that I had done on one of my adventures along the bridle track. I guessed that it was the most locally relevant and personal thing to present him with and I’m pleased that he’s enjoyed looking at it ever since. It’s a modest work that has come to symbolise a friendship and a sense of place.”

Cover Image: Artist Luke Sciberrasand weavers Chris Cochius and Karlie Hawking at the Australian Tapestry Workshop. Photo: ATW

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