Artists and craftworkers in the Goring Gap

The Millennium Tapestry

An original work of art made in the Goring Gap

This original work of art measuring 8ft x 4ft 8in (2.43 x 1.42m) depicts aspects of village life in Goring, Streatley and surrounding areas at the end of the twentieth century. Designed and hand-made entirely by local inhabitants, it comprises 565,882 stitches and involved some 2500 hours of work.

A similar tapestry was presented in May 1999 to the people of Bellême and district in Normandy by the Twinning Association of Goring-on-Thames, Oxfordshire to commemorate the 20th anniversary of twinning between the two communities and to mark the forthcoming Millennium. A while later, this second tapestry was also made to celebrate the Millenium, but intended for permanent display in Goring. It can be seen at the Goring Library in Station Road.

Goring & Streatley Tapestry

In order to view the tapestry in detail, click on it and a larger image will download. (This is quite a large file and may take a little while.)

You may like to see a version of the tapestry which shows what each square represents. You can also see who made each square. To view this version click here. (Depending on what browser software you use, you may be able to see a more detailed picture by right clicking on the new image and then left clicking on 'Zoom In'.)

Goring Gap News is most grateful to Mike and Diane Jackson, Rivermead Studios, Goring for the use of these photographs.


Mary Kinipple – hand-loom weaver

Keeping alive a traditional craft

Mary Kinipple's commitment to weaving began over thirty years ago when an aunt living on a farm gave her an orphan lamb to rear. A friend suggested that she should use the wool and take up spinning and weaving. Mary took her advice and studied for a Diploma in Hand-Loom Weaving. Since then she has extended her expertise widely, using many different types of loom as well as keeping a few sheep of her own at her home in Berkshire, spinning the wool, and dyeing it in natural colours made from dye plants grown in her own garden.

The cloth she weaves is used for making practical and decorative articles such as bags and cushions, also for tapestries.

Mary also weaves hand-knotted rugs, but for these she uses commercial rug yarn as it would be too difficult to produce enough handspun yarn. (It takes many spinners to keep a weaver working!)

 

Photo: Roy Brigden

Mary at work on a specially-designed travel rug commissioned by Reading University’s Museum of English Rural Life. Mary was filmed weaving this as part of a Museum project to make digital film records of rural crafts.

Inspiration from Tibetan weaving methods

Mary Kinipple’s designs are often influenced by her Tibetan travels, reflecting the architecture, colours and scenery of that country. She has been interested in traditional Tibetan weaving methods for some twenty years, although it is only in recent years that she has been able to visit the country, and arrange access to private homes and nomad tents to talk to the people actually producing the woven articles, generally for use in the home as bedding, clothes, tents, bags and carpets. Harnesses and other equipment for the horses were also woven in many colours and patterns. Mary was able to bring home some examples of  everyday small items, and has since exhibited these, together with many photographs, in the course of giving talks to weaving and other interested groups in this country.

Mary in a Tibetan home with a rug weaver and his family

 

A Tibetan woman weaving on a 4-shaft floor loom using handspun yak hair to make cloth for tents

 

Mary Kinipple lives in Streatley, Berkshire.
You can contact her on 01491 872148.


Mark Cottrell – besom broom maker

Maintaining a 100-year craft tradition

Mark Cottrell carries on a near 100-year old family business that specialises in the manufacture of birch besom brooms. This traditional product is still widely used in a number of commercial and domestic situations, and Mark is often in evidence demonstrating his craft at country shows.

The 'head' or brush of a besom broom consists of silver birch twigs tied firmly together, and the 'tail' or handle is of birch, hazel or ash.

The benefit of this type of broom is in its ability to remove lighter material from a loose or non-solid surface, although it takes a little experience to use it properly. A typical application is sweeping leaves or debris from shingle or gravel without raking away the stones. The brooms are used on golf courses, cricket grounds, on private estates, in stables, and for various local authority applications as well as by individuals for their own gardens.

   
Photos: Chris Rickards

Use of naturally renewable materials

Young silver birch saplings are cut in a Christms tree plantation where they grow virtually as a weed between the trees, so removing them is of benefit to the plantation. The birch then regenerates providing material for another day. The birch cuttings are stacked and left to dry. Then comes the 'picking process' which involves breaking off suitable side shoots and gathering them into compact bundles for making the broom heads.

At a special work bench, the birch twig bundle is compacted and firmly tied with wire. Handles are then planed with one end shaped to a point.

The end of the twig bundle is trimmed with an axe; the handle is then inserted deep into the centre of the twig bundle where it is secured with a couple of nails. Despite the simplicity of construction, a well-made besom broom can have a life of up to twenty years.

Mark Cottrell works from Oakwood Sawmill at Great Oaks, Goring Heath, near Reading, Berks. RG8 7QJ. Tel: 01491 681097.
Email: mark@oakwood-bygones.com  Website: www.oakwood-bygones.com

* Mark Cottrell also supplies a range of other wooden products for garden and home, and maintains some vintage farm equipment which is exhibited at country shows and fairs.


Gordon Kent – furniture designer

'Contemporary classics' for today and generations to come

Gordon Kent, a Goring resident all his life, says that he first became fascinated with wood when he was twelve years old. Now, some twenty-five years later he has achieved what he always wanted – to be a successful independent craftsman designing and making fine furniture to order.

This did not come about without a long apprenticeship on the bench, learning the character and qualities of woods and how to work them by machines and special hand tools. He also acquired a degree in three-dimensional design. He now has nearly twenty years experience in skilled cabinet making, and has built up a wide circle of appreciative customers.

He describes his pieces as 'contemporary classics' – in other words, practical modern furniture for today's lifestyle but reflecting some of the best features of classic designs. The range is wide: working from designs developed in close consultation with the customer, he makes occasional tables, dining tables, bookcases, chests of drawers, console tables, carved mirror frames and many other items. He selects his woods carefully; oak, walnut and cherry are popular, and sycamore, walnut, ash and other woods are also used. Each piece is meticulously crafted and finished.

Gordon Kent's workshop is at Homer Barn, Homer, near Nuffield, Oxfordshire. OX10 6QS. Tel: 01491 641020. Email: gordon.kent@tiscali.co.uk


Annual art events in the Goring Gap provide a convenient way to see the work of a number of different artists together or in their individual studios

The Streatley Art Exhibition

A popular annual event in the local arts calendar

Now a well-established annual event, the Streatley Art Exhibition is organised by the Wallingford Rotary Club. The exhibition, which always attracts a large number of people, is an excellent showcase for local artists and artists further afield who have the opportunity to sell their work. All profits from the event are used by the by the Rotary Club to support charities at home and abroad. The exhibition takes place every year over the August Bank Holiday weekend and is open for several days, the venue being the Morrell Rooms in Streatley-on-Thames.

Local artists interested in exhibiting must complete an application form some weeks in advance of the opening date. For information and an application form call 01491 651692.

 

Open Studios Events

Visit artists and see their work

There are opportunities every year to visit local artists and see and discuss their work in their own studios in the Goring Gap area and around. Annual Open Studios events taking place in May are: the Oxfordshire Artweeks and the West Berkshire & North Hampshire Open Studios.

Oxfordshire Artweeks, which first began in 1982, is a three-week celebration of the visual arts in Oxfordshire focusing on the three regions of the county in turn, South Oxfordshire (which includes Goring), North Oxfordshire and Oxford City. The works shown are made by professional and amateur artists of all ages, using every type of media. A comprehensive illustrated catalogue of artists and their work is available free during the event. Information is available from: Oxfordshire Artweeks, PO Box 344, Kidlington, Oxon OX59BE. Tel: 01865 849371. Email: oxfordartweeks@btinternet.com Website: www.artweeks.org

 

Martin Hayward-Harris of Moulsford, near Streatley, is a sculptor, woodcarver and painter who exhibits for Oxfordshire Artweeks Open Studios (01491 652006, website: www.hayward-harris.co.uk).

West Berkshire & North Hampshire Open Studios, first started in 1998, coincides with the much longer established Newbury Spring Festival with which it is now associated. Streatley in the Goring Gap is in West Berkshire. The Open Studios Scheme sets out to enhance understanding and enjoyment of the visual arts, promoting access and the spirit of enquiry. The Directory of Artists issued free is a guide to visiting studios, exhibitions and workshops during the event and throughout the year, Information is available from: Open Studios Scheme, New Greenham Arts, 113 Lindenmuth Way, New Greenham Park, Newbury, Berkshire RG19 6HN. Tel: 01635 817478. Email: admin@open-studios.org.uk Website: www.open-studios.org.uk

 

Water colourist Jacquie Piper, of Whitchurch, exhibits with other local artists at Ridgeway Studio, Rectory Road, Streatley, during the West Berks Open Studios event (01491 872148).


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