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 was going to tour to a prominent London gallery, the Seven Dials in Covent Garden in December 1980 and January 1981. There were thirty artists showing 43 textiles representing work which ranged from the traditional to the experimental. I was pleased to have two pieces accepted.
So I was shocked to receive a letter in late January from STAG’s secretary, Sam Ainsley, to say that criminals had broken into the gallery overnight and stolen almost the entire show. Some difficult-to-move pieces and a few others were left behind, when the thieves entered the gallery the night of 15-16 January. Both of my tapestries were among those taken.
The police were mystified since tapestries, especially those of younger and less-known artists, would have little value on the black market. Perhaps they had seen the price list and thought there was easy money to be made. The Art and Antiques Squad said they would try to help us, but it was soon clear that they didn’t know where to begin. The further blow was that the show wasn’t insured – there was a dispute about who was responsible for the insurance, and none of us got any compensation.
Another mystery occurred about a decade later when three of the tapestries, all in good condition, did turn up at an antiques dealer in London. How did he come by them? What was the story?
My tapestries, Eight Canada Geese (illustrated) and Going North, as well as the rest of the work, have never been found. Please let me know of any sightings!