Dovecot Studios

A new tapestry inspired by Leon Kossoff’s painting Study from ‘Minerva Protects Pax from Mars’ by Rubens (1981).

Tapestry – Minerva Protects Pax from Mars

Dovecot Studios, the internationally renowned art studio in Edinburgh, created a new tapestry inspired by Leon Kossoff’s paintingStudy from 'Minerva Protects Pax from Mars' by Rubens (1981).

It is the first time an artwork by the expressionist painter Kossoff (1926-2019) has been translated into tapestry.  

The subject of Study from 'Minerva Protects Pax fromMars' by Rubens is a highly charged anti-war composition in which Minerva, theRoman goddess of wisdom, helps to drive away Mars, the god of war. Originally conceived by Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640), Kossoff was captivated by thesubject and design of Rubens’ 1630 painting and made multiple studies in charcoal as well as oil painting.  

The project was a collaboration with Parabola, the visionary developer behind the creation of Edinburgh Park, a new public realm in the west of the city where the tapestry will ultimately hang.

Dovecot is a leading contemporary tapestry studio and a centre for contemporary art, craft and design in the heart of Edinburgh’s old town. Founded in1912, Dovecot has created tapestries with some of theUK’s leading artists and architects. From Graham Sutherland andDavid Hockney, to Barbara Rae and Chris Ofili, each new tapestry creates an opportunity for aesthetic discussion, experimentation and collaboration.

The commission from Edinburgh Park to create an artwork inspired by Leon Kossoff’s painting‘Minerva Protects Pax from Mars’ is significant. This is the first time a work by the expressionist artist has been translated into tapestry. It will also be the first new public artwork for Edinburgh by Dovecot in a decade.

Leon Kossoff (1926-2019) is considered one of the most important figurative painters of post-war Britain. Known for his portraits and urban landscapes, Kossoff made multiple studies of the work of Old Masters, including Constable, Poussin and Rembrandt. The subject for the tapestry is a highly charged anti-war painting by Kossoff that was, in turn, inspired by the work of Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640). He was captivated by Rubens’ 1630 composition, in which Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom, helps to drive away Mars, the god of war. Kossoff observed Rubens’ work closely over a period of years and made many drawings before creating his own study in 1981.

The time and skill required by theDovecot team to interpret Kossoff’s painting will be even greater than the artist’s intense observation of Rubens. This is a demanding commission that will be woven over a period of 16months by three weavers. Kossoff’s vigorous, viscous applicationof paint to the canvas and the depth of his palette is an opportunity to exercise Dovecot’s expressive skills. Moreover, the size of the original painting requires the weavers to explore Kossoff’s mark making, texture and colour on a huge scale. At a time when leading artists worldwide are making work in textile, this commission has the power to connect a new audience to Leon Kossoff’s legacy. We hope it will also engage everyone living and working inEdinburgh Park with the opportunities to create art in the city.

Dovecot Studios
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