Weather damage causes major repairs to home of Kendal's Quaker Tapestry (From The Westmorland Gazette)
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Weather damage causes major repairs to home of Kendal's Quaker Tapestry
9:41am Thursday 7th March 2013 in News
ENTERPRISING staff are acting quickly to find temporary lodgings for Kendal’s Quaker Tapestry.
Vital repairs are being carried out due to weather damage to the exhibition space, which is part of a Grade II listed building.
What started off as a planned, minor repair job ahead of an Easter opening, soon escalated into over £25,000 worth of damage.
Builders and specialists discovered that a 40ft wide x 27ft tall wall was wringing wet.
With the plaster removed, further problems were found in the west facing wall which bears the brunt of all weather. The second wettest year recorded in Cumbria has taken its toll.
Surveyors, damp experts and structural engineers say the 250kg, 148ft (4.5m) long lintel oak beam which sits above an 11ft high 13ft wide window needs replacing. As do all the original plaster mouldings around the window and the ceiling cornices.
The vital renovation work leaves the centre staff without an exhibition space and a lost income stream. The charity relies on monies generated by items sold in the exhibition shop as well as tickets and guides.
The café which is open all year round is unaffected by the building work and will cater for visitors coming to see a smaller free exhibition, as well as those attending tapestry workshops.
However there is a silver lining as centre Manager, Bridget Guest explains: “We’ve just finished a major textile conservation project to re-mount and frame every single one of the 77 tapestry panels. This means they are better protected and far more portable. More importantly, we are now well equipped to mount a temporary exhibition in venues around Kendal.”
“Whilst we can display some of the panels in an adjacent room, the Friends Meeting Room, we need to find a temporary home for more of the embroidered panels. If we can find an empty town centre shop we can turn this disaster into something good by taking the panels to the people.”
“The Exhibition Centre is on the periphery of town and the Meeting House can be difficult to find. A temporary central venue within the town will be handier for people to see the panels and we can also promote our real home. We will waive the usual entrance fee so people can come and enjoy the tapestry for free.”
Fondly referred to as the ‘Kendal Tapestry’, it is in fact a colourful, modern textile story set out on 77 panels size 25” (635mm) x 21” (533mm). Likened to the Bayeux Tapestry it celebrates life, people and events across the centuries and was made by 4,000 men, women and children, aged from 4 to 90 from 15 different countries. Created between 1981 and 1996, it came into being as a result of a chance remark by an 11-year-old-boy to his teacher, Anne Wynn-Wilson.
The tapestry’s permanent home is the Georgian Friends Meeting House on Stramongate in Kendal. Designed in 1816 by local architect Francis Webster for the Quakers it is claimed to be one of the finest Georgian buildings in Cumbria.
Since its first public exhibition, the Tapestry has travelled to more than 150 venues in the UK, Europe and America. For the last 13 years, half of the panels have visited another part of country each February; in 2012 Dr Mary Archer opened the Ely Cathedral exhibition. This year, parts of the Quaker Tapestry will be exhibited more frequently for shorter periods of time. Invitations have been accepted from Mountmellick in Ireland, the Ironbridge Gorge Museum in Shropshire, Southwell Minster in Nottinghamshire and the Old Chapel Textile Centre at Greenham Common in West Berkshire.
Fundraising activities are also planned to raise money for the unexpected repair work. Storytelling laureate Taffy Thomas will be sharing tales and food in the Friends Meeting House on April 20 at 7pm. And singers Pandora’s Handbag and world renowned harmony group Artisan will be giving a concert at the Friends Meeting House on May 11 at 7.30pm. Further details can be found on the events section of the website: http://www.quaker-tapestry.co.uk/.