On carpets and unicorns
The last Oriental carpet talk was all about the symbolism inherent in the designs, the main themes one can expect to find, cultural and functional meaning, messages and reminders. Even choice of colour used is not a random decision - this too carries specific meaning! After an introductory discussion, Deryl divided the attendees into four groups and set each the task of interpreting a specific carpet in the gallery. Doing the work and later, listening to the results was enormously entertaining. I doubt that anyone attending these lectures will ever view carpets in quite the way they did before. Speaking for myself, what I have learned is just how little I know, how much there still is to learn, how much pleasure is to be derived from observing more carefully and with due respect these extraordinary works of art. And one has to ask the question - for how much longer will the making of these carpets and rugs in our dramatically changing world, and especially in the Middle East, be possible? It is important, I think, to realize that we may be on the cusp of the passing away or diminishment of a great and significant art form which we and previous generations have simply been taking for granted all of our lives, believing the endless supply of beautiful work to just be there, and that it will continue so forever. I suspect it is more vulnerable than that at origin, unlikely to be with us as a river constantly flowing with freely available excellence than we like to think, dependent as it is on dedicated hard work and the persistent willingness to put in the daily grind it takes to turn ordinary materials - wool, cotton, vegetable dyes - using experience and skill handed down over generations, and patient time given by simple people usually for a pittance, into such things of beauty. Given the changes we are seeing in the world, the great shifts, especially in the countries which are the source of these carpets, I am beginning to think that what we are now seeing might be the last unicorns of their kind which we should be getting to know and understand better, and appreciate fully, before they go the way of all other endangered things while we stand complacently and ignorantly by.
This exhibition is now over and we are still getting used to the absence of the lovely carpets, but pleased to announce that Deryl is happy to continue collaborating with our gallery and offering her valuable advice and expertise, working closely with Macushla, in the future. Meanwhile we are in the process of gathering and hanging paintings for our next exhibition. We will post information about this very soon.