Tapestries lend warmth, colour and texture to any environment, especially buildings made in modern materials. Add to that the fact that they can be made on an impressive scale, and you'll see why many companies and individuals choose them for prominent locations.
I make a wide variety of handmade, one-off textile and paper works of art, often to commission. They can be tiny or huge, three inches by three inches (7 x 7 cm) to eight feet by fifteen feet (2.5 m x 4.5 m). They can be tapestries, paperworks or other types of textile. The choice is yours.
I have worked with galleries, architects, interior designers, shopping centre managers, executives, private individuals and even civil servants. My clients get the work of art they want, one that enhances the chosen space and says something about their company or themselves. I always meet deadlines (approximately three months for a large tapestry). I am happy to work with you to design something to your specifications and budget.
I start with sketches and sample weaves following your instructions, and I don’t start on the project until you are completely happy.
2000- 2003 “Unmarked Lives”, Multicultural Art Gallery, Halifax, Nova Scotia and touring to ten venues in Canada, USA and Scotland
1994 “Joanne Soroka”, MacRobert Arts Centre, Stirling, Scotland
1991 “Joanne Soroka Textiles”, Crawford Arts Centre, St. Andrews, Scotland, and touring
1990 Wintergarden, People’s Palace, Glasgow
1990 “Flags”, Arup Associates, London
1981 – 1982 “Tapestries by Joanne Soroka”, Textile Museum, Washington, DC
1982 “Tapestries of Gold”, Ontario Crafts Council Gallery, Toronto
1980 “Tapestries”, Canadian Guild of Crafts Quebec, Montreal
1980 “Recent Tapestries”, SAW Gallery, Ottawa, Canada
1977 Galerie Heritage, Toronto
Group shows (recent selected):
2019 Cordis Trust Prize, Inverleith House, Edinburgh
2019 Heallreaf, London
2019 Groundwork Gallery, King’s Lynn, UK
2018 Weaving New Worlds: Contemporary Tapestry, William Morris Gallery,
2018-19 Artaptestry5, touring to Denmark, Sweden, Latvia and Romania
2017-18 Daughters of Penelope, Dovecot Studios, Edinburgh
2017 Apocalypse or Global Sustainability, Karpit 3, Budapest, Hungary
2016-17 To Weave Dreams, 26th Miniartextil, Como, Italy; and touring to
Paris, Caudry, France and Venice
2016 15th International Triennial of Tapestry, Central Museum of Textiles, Lodz, Poland
2012 Artapestry3, Denmark and touring to Finland, Sweden, France, Latvia
2011 That was Then: This is NOW, City Art Centre, Edinburgh
2011 Kate Derum Award for Small Tapestries, Australian Tapestry Workshop, Melbourne
2009 ‘This is Now: From Drawing to Contexture’, Patriothall Gallery, Edinburgh (Edinburgh Art Festival exhibition)
2009-2010 IXe Triennale Internationale des mini-textiles, Musée Jean Lurçat, Angers, France and touring to Canada, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium
2009 3rd International Triennal for Miniature Textiles, Gallery of Szombathely, Hungary
2009 6th International Biennale of Textile Miniatures, ‘Centenaries and Instants’, Arka Gallery, Vilnius, Lithuania and touring in Lithuania
2009-2010 “Vive la Tapisserie!” French Institute Gallery, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK and touring to Stornoway and London
2009 “Textile Art in Canada”, Montreal Centre for Contemporary Textiles, Montreal, Canada
2008 “Land”, Australian National University, Acton, Canberra, Australia
2004 13th Tallinn Print Triennial, Tallinn, Estonia
2003 “Visual Arts Scotland Annual Exhibition”, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh (invited artist)
2001-2002 “Cultural Exchange”, Birmingham Art Gallery and Museum, Birmingham
1999 “Edinburgh Makers”, National Museum of Modern Art, Kyoto, Japan
1999“ECA to USA”, New Jersey Center for Visual Arts, Summit, New Jersey
1998-2000 “Scottish Spirit”, Arthur Ross Gallery, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia and touring in the USA
1996 “Woven Image: Contemporary British Tapestry”, Barbican Centre, London and touring
Textiles at the Venice Biennale: part 2
As I said in Part 1, the Venice Biennale is thought of as the Olympics of the art world. It means that you can see art which would never normally cross your path. Where else can you see the work of artists from Uganda or…
Textiles in the Venice Biennale: part 1
Detail of Gõegõe In October 2022, I was thrilled to be able to visit the Venice Biennale for the first time. I spent only a short time there with a friend, so we had to pack three days full of gallery visits, taking only short…
What not to say to a tapestry weaver
No doubt every professional suffers the indignity of ignorant remarks, once people know what their calling is, from wanting a medical diagnosis at a drinks party to those who think they understand police procedure from watching television. Tapestry weavers are in the same boat. Whether…
I have regularly participated in international exhibitions in Europe for many years. There are several juried shows, ie a sort of competition where judges decide whether your tapestry is suitable to be included. So in December of 2020, having had a tapestry accepted, I sent…
Wow! I have a thousand Instagram followers
I have more than 1000 followers on Instagram. Whoopee! A large proportion of new followers are nice-looking men in their 50s or 60s who are widowers. They are generals in the US Army or doctors, often surgeons, or at least wealthy, and they profess to…
Why you are paying for failure when you buy a work of art
Potential buyers of art sometimes complain about the high prices. Part of the reason for steep prices is that you are paying for failures. At the heart of artistic creation is experimentation, trying out things that haven’t been done in that exact way before. Ideas…
Is it a tapestry? Yes.
It makes you want to scream. If you type ‘tapestry’ into Amazon, you find that a tapestry can be yours for £4.99! Often they are described as ‘hippie’ or ‘mandala’ and may be 100% polyester. One site states, ‘Hang your tapestries up, use them as…
Tapestry: Changing Concepts – exhibition highlights
Tapestry: Changing Concepts opened at the City Art Centre, Edinburgh in November and will run until March 2022. The show looks fantastic, with many pieces I would be happy to take home with me. We have also had some good press coverage: ‘Fresh Fruit of…
How to put together a tapestry show
In about two weeks, a big exhibition of tapestry will open at the City Art Centre in Edinburgh. Four years in the making, Tapestry: Changing Concepts is a collaboration between the venue and Scottish Tapestry Artists Regrouped (STAR*). Why does a show need four years…
The Year of Grief
2020 was a hard year for all of us, but I had a particularly bad time. My mother died in March, and my soulmate, Barry, in August. Various things helped to keep me going – friends and family, my dog, the allotment (community garden) and…
Scam Alert Part II
A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog article about how a Dr Paul Donna had stolen the blurb from my book, Tapestry Weaving: Design and Technique, and published a book of his own called Tepestry [sic] Weaving – The Pratical [sic] Guide to…
In the digital world, it is commonplace for images to be stolen and repurposed for someone else’s gain. Apparently on Amazon Marketplace and elsewhere, it is buyer beware, since unscrupulous people take an image and flog an inferior product that looks nothing like it. I…
9/11 and my exhibition
About twenty years ago, in September 2001, I was excited that my solo touring show, Unmarked Lives, was about to open at the New Jersey Center for Visual Arts in Summit, NJ. I had spent decades researching my ancestors, who were Jewish-Lithuanian, Jewish-Ukrainian, Japanese and…
One of the recent themes in my work has been refugees and their journeys. My own ancestors crossed the seas both fleeing from oppression and poverty and searching for a better life for themselves and their children. Their stories often moved me, as do those…
Featured image, Flying, miniature textile by Joanne Soroka, 20 x 20 x 9 cm, cut Japanese paper, exhibited at Miniartextil, Como A large tapestry is a major commitment for an artist to embark on, since it may be three months or even more in the…
The Year of Tapestry
Among the cognoscenti, Edinburgh is known as the epicentre of tapestry weaving. Starting with the founding of the Dovecot Studios in 1912 and the inception of the Tapestry Department at Edinburgh College of Art fifty years later, the city has been long been home to…
The Art is the Cloth
Tapestry weaving has gained a new prominence lately, with quite a few books published on the subject. They range from how-to ones to histories of the medium in general or about a given work, era or workshop. But until now, there haven’t been any that…
How I Made a Shroud
My soulmate, Barry, died suddenly and unexpectedly in August. After I got over the initial shock, I thought about how I wanted to give him a parting and meaningful gift, so I decided, as a textile artist, to make a shroud for him. Barry was…
What’s so special about tapestry weaving?
One of the great strengths of tapestry weaving is the surfaces that can be created. Each medium has its positives, and with tapestry, yarns can be used in multiple ways to create texture in bas relief or even into the third dimension. Here are a…
Art in the time of coronavirus
With the current pandemic, we are in a life-and-death situation, all feeling isolated and scared. Most of us are doing our best to comply with medical advice and government regulations. We are practising social distancing by staying at home and minimising contact with others. Tapestry…
Juried exhibitions – why should artists subsidise them?
I have previously fulminated on the subject of open-call commissions, when artists were asked to provide designs to a brief, often in a short timescale and without payment. I composed a sample: ‘The tapestry for Borchester City Chambers should be on the theme of ‘caring…
In the late 1970s a number of us formed the Scottish Tapestry Artist Group (STAG) to help promote tapestry weaving mainly by having exhibitions. Our shows included the work of both established artists and more recent graduates. We were excited when our third main show…
Can textiles be political?
Joanne Soroka, Another Country, shaped tapestry with tufting The words ‘political’ and ‘textiles’ are not natural bedfellows. Textiles are gentle, feminine and amateur in the general imagination, but some artists like to subvert received opinion and use the apparent disparity to make their point….
How do I become an artist?
The traditional view was that the artist was a genius, a man, who worked in a freezing garret and was devoted only to his art. He was separate from ‘normal’ society, but didn’t care – in fact, he celebrated his superiority to it. Perhaps it…
Archie Brennan (1931-2019) and the time he made me cry
Archie was one of my teachers in the Tapestry Department at Edinburgh College of Art in the 1970s, along with Maureen Hodge and Fiona Mathison. He was there less often than they were but he was a strong force, highly regarded for his abilities as…
It’s just not working – what do I do now? Revising tapestries
With some media, it’s easy to correct mistakes. But with tapestry, if you change your mind about something or realise it is just not working, it can mean tediously having to unweave many days’ or even weeks’ work or having to cut out the offending…
The strangest exhibition opening ever
I exhibit my work internationally, and sometimes I am lucky enough to be able to travel to far-flung destinations. It can be exciting to attend the opening of an exhibition, although they tend to be standard affairs with chatting and speeches, albeit tempered by the…
Foraging for Tapestries
I have loved collecting wild food all my life, starting as a small child with wild strawberries and blueberries. When I discovered the books Stalking the Wild Asparagus and Food for Free in the 1970s, I broadened my searches to include plants such as wintercress…
What’s So Funny?
Tapestry is thought of as a serious discipline, historically used to impress its audience by showing the might, taste and prestige of its owners. Or it could cow viewers into submission by frightening them with images of the Apocalypse, suggesting that they should turn from…
The resurgence of tapestry
Happily we have seen a resurgence of interest in textiles as art in recent years. Great – but why is it happening now? We know that textiles have often been viewed as craft and that the practitioners have mainly been women – two strikes against…
How to make a tapestry about Islamophobia
I wanted to respond to Islamophobia, one of the great evils of our age. Along with everyone I know, I was horrified by the Christchurch mosque shootings on 15 March, and the following day I was at the Cordis Prize for Tapestry conference, where Lesley…
Are textiles art or craft – what the critics say
Those of us who create tapestries in the widest sense of the term consider that we are making art. However we are often annoyed or even angered by the way our work is perceived, especially by those who should know better, the art critics. Here…
The Cordis Prize exhibition and symposium
The Cordis Prize for Tapestry was initiated by Miranda Harvey and her husband, the crime writer Ian Rankin. https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/17498523.weaving-a-new-story-ian-rankin-on-how-he-fell-in-love-with-tapestries/?ref=twtrec They wanted to celebrate tapestry by offering an £8000 prize, the world’s largest, with an exhibition for shortlisted entries, to celebrate and stimulate the medium. This…
How long does it take to weave a tapestry?
Presumably every person who goes to a party and meets strangers knows the first question they will ask, once their job title has been established. For tapestry weavers, it may be, ‘Oh yes, my aunt does that,’ but more usually it is, ‘How long does…
Why bother weaving? What is the point?
When you embark on the weaving of a large tapestry, you know it is going to take months to complete, so you want to be sure it is worth the time and effort. Here are some of the things I try to consider. Is it…
Why do we need prizes for art? The Cordis Prize for Tapestry
Let’s look at one of them. The Cordis Prize for Tapestry was initiated by Miranda Harvey and her husband, the crime writer Ian Rankin, in 2015. The fourth exhibition of shortlisted submissions will be exhibited 16 March to 27 May at Inverleith House, Royal Botanic…
Why is it so hard to sell tapestries?
No one becomes a tapestry weaver with the expectation of making their fortune. We all supplement our meagre incomes by teaching or other activities, from waitstaff to dog walking. But why don’t people buy our beautiful works of art? Tapestry suffers from a number of…
Is it a tapestry? No.
I think every tapestry weaver has had the experience of meeting someone at a party and, following the reply to the question, ‘What do you do?’, has got the reply, ‘Oh yes, my aunt does that.’ I inevitably suppress the inclination to sigh and give…
Upcoming Juried Shows
Tapestry weavers who make works large or small can enter upcoming juried exhibitions. You just need to send images of your work, within any parameters set, and hope the jury prefers it to others submitted. Sometimes a fee is also required, and you usually have…
The Lime Tree Gallery, Fort William
I was contacted out of the blue by the Lime Tree Gallery in Fort William in the Scottish Highlands in February 2018. They wanted to show two of my tapestries, Kawa and The Face of the Earth. I hadn’t heard of them, but a small…
Artapestry 5 is the fifth of this series of triennial juried exhibitions that tour in Europe. My tapestry, Another Country, is one of forty selected works out of a total of 118 submitted from 17 countries. Artapestry is run by the European Tapestry Forum to…
Weaving New Worlds
Weaving New Worlds was an exhibition at the William Morris Gallery in Walthamstow, London in the summer of 2018. It was the brainchild of Lesley Millar, an eminent curator and academic in the field of textiles. She wanted to showcase the work of sixteen women…
I hate fringes!
When I say I hate fringes, of course the ones I hate most are the artificially added ones to non-tapestries that call themselves tapestries, such as the first one illustrated. However, many true tapestries also show fringes, the warp yarn which has not been turned…
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