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A range of items of interest to the Membership

The Caged Bird's Song

September 2017

Designed by the Turner prize winning artist, Chris Ofili CBE, and hand woven by the internationally renowned Dovecot Tapestry Studio in Edinburgh, The Caged Bird's Song is a bold and vibrant triptych which draws on Ofili's ongoing interests in classical mythology and contemporary demi-gods, and is inspired by the stories, magic and colour of the Trinidadian landscape he inhabits.

The commission and, in particular, the choice of such a prominent artist to design the work, make a powerful statement about our commitment to our root craft and our desire to support endangered skills and nurture talent.

Dovecot is one of only two surviving tapestry studios in the UK; it took a team of five master weavers over two and a half years to translate Ofili's watercolour design to the loom, interpreting, replicating and magnifying each and every colour and nuance with great skill and artistry. The three panels together measure some 7.8m wide by 2.8m high. The commission thus necessitated close collaboration between artist and maker(s), in what Ofili described as a ‘marriage of watercolour and weaving’. 

In the left panel is a female figure, elegant and goddess-like, positioned at the edge of a scene, carrying crab-eye, a type of grass fed to songbirds.  On the right is a male figure, carrying a song-bird in a cage.  The central panel contains an imagined landscape in which a waterfall tumbles into the sea, and where a musician serenades his female companion.  She, in turn, receives a mysterious drink into a cocktail glass, poured from the tree above by an abstracted otherworldly figure, inspired by the black African Italian footballer Mario Balotelli, a prodigiously talented yet troubled figure.

As the spray of the waterfall touches their faces, the lovers sit absorbed in the moment, unaware of eyes upon them, however fleetingly.  Soon the curtains will close and their watery world disappear from view, just as storm clouds rolling in on the horizon suggested a darkening to come, bring to an end this arcadian vision.

The Caged Bird's Song has now been installed in Clothworkers' Hall following its extremely successful run at The National Gallery as the centrepiece of the recent Chris Ofili: Weaving Magic show. It will be unveiled to Members of the Company for the first time at the October Livery Dinner; however, appointments to view the tapestry at other times are being offered to students, Clothworkers and members of the public alike.  Please visit the following page on our main website for further information: or contact to book an appointment.

A limited number of Weaving Magic catalogues (now sold out in shops) have been reserved for Members to purchase for £25 including postage and packaging. Please email if you would like to purchase a copy.


The Caged Bird's Song

September 2017

Following its successful run at The National Gallery, the Company's new Chris Ofili designed tapestry comes to Clothworkers' Hall.

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Caritas Anchor House celebrates milestone achievement

July 2017

It seems no time at all since, on different occasions, Dhruv Patel and the Clerk visited Caritas Anchor House in Newham to hear about their work and to view what was then an adjoining building site.

The design concept for the 25 move-on flats was impressive – and the finished article even more so.  The flats are compact, each with distinct living and bedroom space, and a quality bathroom protruding at the centre of the flat.

Beyond this, we were particularly drawn to the innovative and effective approach of Caritas Anchor House to addressing homelessness and its causes, beyond the most obvious one of shortage of affordable housing. 

Despite the aim being to see residents move on to sustainable independent living outside of the facility, there is a remarkable sense of community.

The scheme for the flats was a multi-million pound commitment.  The Clothworkers’ Foundation assisted, to the tune of £100,000, to help close the gap in funding for the final phase of a major refurbishment project.

CAH uses the Aspirations Programme Pyramid, developed with service users, which sets the order of priority for addressing the needs of a new resident.  The layers of the pyramid, from the base up, include organisation and performance, personal development, health and fitness, education and training, employment; and move-on.
Residents, who include some of the most vulnerable in the borough, are encouraged to take ownership of their situation and to make the most of the opportunity to develop life skills that will allow them to prosper once they leave. Support is personalised and seeks to break the cycle of homelessness, with the active engagement of the individual service user, gradually assuming control of all aspects of their life.

The 25 move-on flats generate an income from residents’ Housing Benefit and personal contributions. 

The Caritas Anchor House approach to addressing homelessness is highly effective.  It is for this reason that The Clothworkers’ Foundation, in company with many other funders, felt so readily able to support the project. 

CAH's report on the event can be viewed here.

Caritas Anchor House

July 2017

East London charity celebrates milestone achievement in the completion and opening of 25 move-on flats.

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