Peter Collingwood

3D Wall Hanging


Not on display

Peter Collingwood 1922 – 2008
Linen and steel
Object: 1720 × 320 × 210 mm
Purchased 2020


Peter Collingwood’s 3D Wall Hanging c.1960 is a large, woven wall hanging that demonstrates the artist’s innovative approach to hand weaving. It is comprised of yellow and red linen threads and steel rods. The warp threads, which run vertically, are allowed to break through the traditionally flat plane of the weaving through the use of horizontal steel rods that have been woven in at regular intervals from the top to bottom of the hanging, lending structure to the weave. Additional steel rods connect the horizontal rods vertically, forcing certain sections forwards and giving the work greater depth. The warp threads are separated into sections and woven around the horizontal rods in such a way that they create a three-dimensional structure that is broadly zigzag in form.

Collingwood was one of the pre-eminent British weavers of the second half of the twentieth century. Having qualified in medicine and practised as a house surgeon for a number of years, he turned his attention to weaving, ordering his first loom in 1950 from George Maxwell in Ditchling, Sussex, where the sculptor Eric Gill (1882–1940) had previously established a craft community. There Collingwood met Ethel Mairet (1872–1952), an established and influential hand-loom weaver, who agreed to take him on as her apprentice for several months. In 1952 he set up his own workshop in Highgate, London, producing handwoven rugs, which were exhibited and sold widely. He later moved his workshop to Digswell Arts Trust in Welwyn Garden City, where he worked alongside other makers, including the potter Hans Coper (1920–1981).

Committed to innovation with his craft, Collingwood tested and experimented with the limitations of weaving. He dismantled looms and then reconfigured them so they could achieve different results. Caroline Burvill quoted him in Selvedge magazine, highlighting his innovative approach which was nevertheless rooted in a deep understanding of the techniques of weaving: ‘Use the technique so that its limitations become a help rather than a hindrance … Start with what the technique gives willingly and from those elements construct your design.’ (Peter Collingwood, quoted in Burvill 2018, accessed 5 September 2019.) Collingwood became particularly known for his distinctive ‘macrogauze’ technique in which the warp threads could run in directions other than vertically (see, for example, Macrogauze 116 No. 2 c.1975, Tate T15511).

In 1965–7 Collingwood’s work was included in Weaving for Walls, a touring exhibition organised by the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. In its selection of weavers, the exhibition emphasised figures who attempted to blur the boundaries between art and craft. Collingwood’s work was shown alongside such experimental figures as Tadek Beutlich (1922–2011) and Ann Sutton (born 1935). Sutton, having met and been influenced by the British constructivists Kenneth and Mary Martin (1905–1984, 1907–1969), renamed a course she taught ‘Textile Construction’. Beutlich was known to incorporate found materials such as charred wood, x-ray film and honesty seeds into his weaving. Collingwood, Beutlich and Sutton were conscious that their work represented a new aspiration and ambition for their craft. Collingwood made a distinction between what he called ‘craftsmen weavers’ and the ‘artist weaver’, describing the latter as ‘alive to contemporary trends in fashion, decoration, painting and all the arts’ and saying that they react ‘sensitively to the spirit of the time’ (quoted in Tanya Harrod, The Real Thing: Essays on Making in the Modern World, London 2015, p.268).

Further reading
Ruth Harris / Peter Collingwood, exhibition catalogue, Crafts Council Gallery, London 1981.
Caroline Burvill, ‘The Master of Macrogauze’, Selvedge, no.81, 2 March 2018,, accessed 5 September 2019.

Helen Delaney
September 2019

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