Pallant House Gallery and Chichester Cathedral are delighted to announce that a tapestry by John Craxton will be on display in the Cathedral for four months, free to view for visitors. Landscape with the Elements (1975-76) was designed by the celebrated British Romantic artist who used to sing in Chichester Cathedral choir as a child.
The new major exhibition 'John Craxton: A Modern Odyssey' opened at Pallant House Gallery in October and celebrates the life and work of British Romantic artist, John Craxton R.A. (1922-2009). The exhibition follows Craxton's career, from the melancholic early works he created in wartime Britain, to the vibrant paintings inspired by his adopted homeland of Greece, where he travelled extensively and defied convention as a bohemian and openly gay man. It features over 100 works including paintings, drawings, prints, ceramics, set designs and book cover designs.
At an early age John Craxton was lucky to travel widely with family and friends. Many of his travels inspired creative turning points for the artist daring to explore colour and use bolder lines. He often stayed on the south coast in Selsey with family and he regularly sang in the choir at Chichester Cathedral as a boy.
With these personal links to the local area, it is fitting that Chichester Cathedral is able to display Craxton’s enormous Cretan-inspired tapestry Landscape with the Elements (1975-76) as part of the Gallery’s exhibition.
John Craxton, Landscape with the Elements: Cottrell Memorial Tapestry, Cottrell tapestry Macrobert Art Centre, Stirling, © Estate of John Craxton. All rights reserved, DACS 2023.
The monumental tapestry is an example of John Craxton’s passion for Greek landscapes, its creative history and its people, as Ian Collins, Craxton’s biographer, explains:
“Although a tribute to Scottish craftsmanship, the Craxton tapestry is all about the seasonal and diurnal life of Greece… Mediterranean sun and moon dominate the changing scene. Earth is suggested by Cretan rocks, plants and tree. Air by a flying bird. Water by rain, waterfall and Aegean-like sea, and Fire by flames which have set the top of the tree alight and by smoke changing into clouds. Loving Greek mythology as much as archaeology… it shows the enormous impact on the artist of Byzantine mosaics.”
Landscape with the Elements was commissioned by the University of Stirling as a memorial to Tom Cottrell, the University of Stirling’s first Principal and Vice Chancellor. When the tapestry was first made, it was amongst the largest and most complex woven tapestries in Scotland with the main complexity being the breadth of colour used.
Landscape with the Elements (1975-76) by John Craxton will be on display in Chichester Cathedral from 13th December 2023 to 18th April 2024. Pallant House Gallery’s current exhibition ‘John Craxton: A Modern Odyssey’ will run until 21st April 2024.