The Federation Tapestry: Celebrations 2001

This panel forms the tenth and final panel in the suite of tapestries which make up the Federation Tapestry.

Federation Tapestry: Celebrations 2001

Celebrations 2001

Designed by Sydney based artist Martin Sharp, this panel represents Australia as it is now. The dominant image is of the word ‘Eternity’ which Sharp has used as part of a sentence from Patrick White’s novel Riders in the Chariot,‘…because a moment can become (eternity) depending on what it contains’.

Detail of Federation Tapestry: Celebrations 2001

Detail of Celebrations 2001

Since the 1960s, Sharp, an artist who has designed many posters and record covers, has made a significant contribution to Australian pop culture. He knew and admired Patrick White and also has a long-standing interest in Arthur Stace, a reclusive Sydneysider who wrote the word ‘Eternity’ in chalk on city pavements for nearly sixty years. The artist has said that he ‘loved the idea of that vastest of words which had been written so humbly and so often on the pavements of Sydney, …(being) honored in tapestry’.

Federation Tapestry: Celebrations 2001. Detail of the tapestry, showing the Southern Cross.

Detail of the tapestry, showing the Southern Cross

Sharp also paid homage to Ginger Riley through the inclusion in his design of a small version of Ngak Ngak in Limmen Bight River Country.

The word ‘Sorry’, written in the sky above the Opera House, refers to the skywriting during the reconciliation march in Sydney in 2000.

In the background is a panorama of First Fleet sailing ships. A centrally placed bright red map of Australia is overlaid with the Southern Cross because for Sharp, ‘Australia stands out on a map of the world. I have always loved its shape …Being one nation gives it a unity and uniqueness, with Uluru right in the centre’.

Federation Tapestry: Celebrations 2001. Detail, showing the First Fleet, skywriting, and the Opera House.

Detail, showing the First Fleet, skywriting, and the Opera House

Sharp’s design was originally presented in collage form, and the weavers worked with the assemblage of photographic images and pieces of plain wrapping paper to create a unified tapestry.

This is the fourth tapestry Sharp has created with the Victorian Tapestry Workshop and he has developed a strong rapport with the weavers. Their challenge lay in maintaining the layering of border, text and central image, and in working out the necessary technique to represent Ginger Riley’s painting successfully on a reduced scale.

Celebrations 2001

Artist: Martin Sharp and incorporating Ngak Ngak
in Limmen Bight River Country
by Ginger Riley Munduwalawala (c. 1937–2002) and text by Patrick White
(Riders in the Chariot).

Size: 200 x 354 cm

The Victorian Tapestry Workshop acknowledges the support of the Estate of Patrick White for the use of text.

The Federation Tapestry was supported by the Commonwealth Government through the Federation Fund.

Further Reading

Latreille, Anne and Walker, Murray 2001. The Federation Tapestry: one people united in peace. Catalogue available from the Victorian Tapestry Workshop and the Melbourne Museum Shop

Walker, Sue (Ed.) 2000. Modern Australian Tapestries from the Victorian Tapestry. Workshop. The Beagle Press.

1995. Australian Tapestries from the Victorian Tapestry Workshop.

Brochures: Victorian Tapestry Workshop, Melbourne’s Marvellous Tapestries

Video: 1997 Contemporary Australian Tapestries from the Victorian Tapestry Workshop.

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