Reflections of the Conquest Art and Object inspired by the world of the Bayeux Tapestry

A juried exhibit of contemporary artisans,

including both historic reproductions and modern original works.

February 2 to March 30 2002

Woodstock Museum

466 Dundas St - Woodstock Ont

Reflections of the Conquest

.... is a juried exhibit of contemporary objects, contributed primarily by artisans who, through their past work, have shown an interest in themes and / or techniques drawn from the Early Middle Ages. The work of professional artists, and also crafts people who are experienced historical re-enactors, can be seen. The objects on display are a combination of new original designs inspired by the 'World of the Conquest', plus reproductions of the physical objects from the age. A wide range of physical mediums is represented : textiles, ceramics, precious metals, wood, steel, paper and paint. The working techniques range from exact historical methods through to the most modern tools and materials.

Artists were presented with the striking imagery of the Bayeux Tapestry to provide an obvious starting point. At the same time, each was encouraged to step outside the framework of the Tapestry itself to consider the historic cultural traditions of the various peoples who were directly involved: Anglo Saxon, Viking and French.

Reflections of the Conquest represents the first time the Woodstock Museum has presented a formal exhibition of contemporary artisans. Sheila Johnston has (bravely!) worked with the sponsoring artists group, An Droichead / the Bridge, to organize what you will see. For many of the contributing artisans, this exhibit marks the first time they have presented their work before the public.

Taken altogether, Reflections of the Conquest represents a unique type of gallery exhibit. Some objects are virtually reproductions of those seen in the Tapestry. Others extend period graphic elements into wildly new forms and mediums. Some are whimsical, some practical, others thought provoking.

The main objective of Reflections of the Conquest is to illustrate how history continues to influence and inspire future generations of artists. It is said that "Those who do not learn the lessons of History are doomed to repeat its failures." Perhaps not all the lessons need be harsh - these artisans certainly show us that the past can be beautiful!

Go ON for a virtual tour of the exhibit

The Woodstock Museum : Sheila Johnson, Curator

466 Dundas St, Woodstock, ONT - N4S 1C4
(519) 537-8411

Exhibit Curator : Darrell Markewitz

Hamlet of Wareham, RR # 2, Proton Station, ONT - N0C 1L0
(519) 923-9219 /

Artistic Sponsor : An Droichead / the Bridge

Corporate Sponsor : Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce

Historic Background:

The 11th Century was a time of vast changes in Northern Europe. Only two or three generations had passed since the chaos of the Viking raids had been replaced with wide spread trade, often by the same men in the same ships. Unstable times had resulted in strong hands grasping swords and assuming leadership. In Europe the foundation of the Knightly class and the Feudal system had been laid. Large towns had grown to replace seasonal market centres, allowing for the concentration of artists and tradesmen. Christianity had finally spread into Scandinavia, replacing the older pagan religion. In England, successive waves of invaders had finally melded with the earlier Britans and Celts into more of a combined culture -the Anglo Saxons. In France, the grandsons of the original Vikings had taken on the local customs and language and were now known as the Normans. One last great adventure would remain. William of Normandy would gather together a great army, cross the Channel to England in a flotilla of ships, and battle Harold Godwineson to win control of the country. The victorious Normans would mark the character of most of the British Isles for the rest of the Middle Ages.....
The Bayeux Tapestry, commissioned by William's half brother Oden de Conteville, tells this story. The original Tapestry, embroidered on linen and some 70 metres long, represents a unique visual record of the campaign and the events leading up to it. Rendered in a simple style, the hundreds of figures within the individual panels are seen hunting and feasting, building and preparing, and of course - in battle.
The replica of the Bayeux tapestry that will be on display at the Woodstock Museum is one continuous strip of linen approximately 24 inches in width and 196 feet in length. This replica was made by J. Raymond Dugan, a retired French professor from the University of Waterloo and tours to museums throughout Ontario. The design is executed in eight colours: rust red, yellow, three shades of blue and three shades of green. (Since the original is very faded in spots the reproduction of the precise colour scheme can only be approximate.) Since the end of the tapestry has been lost, the last two scenes of the replica have been invented and show William after the Battle of Hastings and at his coronation.

Go ON for some selected references.

All text © 2001, 2002 Darrell Markewitz.