Shortlist Exhibition

The 2021 Cordis Prize for Tapestry

Rewarding ambition in contemporary weaving

23 October – 12 December 2021

Inverleith House Gallery

The Royal Botanic Gardens


Open daily from 10.30am.
Last admission 4.15pm October; 3.15pm November — December.

The Cordis Prize is the world’s largest award for tapestry, aiming to encourage and reward ambition and scale in the field of contemporary weaving. A worldwide open call attracted entries from as far afield as Australia, Canada and Russia, from artists working across the weaving spectrum, from traditional methods and fibres, to found materials and unorthodox applications of the Gobelin technique.

This year, after a postponed deadline, we received a record high number of submissions from artists across the world. We were heartened to see an upturn in the number of young weavers, and in artists moving from different disciplines towards weaving as a medium for creating fine art. The pandemic year has certainly excerpted influence on the artists who submitted their work, through political critique, personal reflection, and in finding tapestry as a means of therapeutic making. The 2021 Cordis Prize boasts the most eclectic mix of artists, themes, and techniques to date, and we are pleased to present a broad reflection of the world of tapestry through our shortlist exhibition.

The shortlist exhibition will be held once again in the stunning setting of Inverleith House Gallery, at the heart of Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden. The winner of the £8000 prize will be announced prior to the exhibition opening on 23 October.

The Winner

Lifetime by Louise Martin

From a shortlist of 20 artworks by 19 artists considered for the £8000 prize the winner selected is Louise Martin whose work Lifetime wowed the judging panel. Made in silk, linen, cotton and paper warp and weft, Lifetime references a daily life lived and is indicative of the artist’s work informed by landscape and travel combined with a strong influence in technique, structure and form.

Speaking on receiving the award and about the work Louise Martin said:

“I am delighted to see my work in Inverleith House. The natural daylight of the Gallery breathes and showcases the subtleties of the woven structure beautifully. My work often begins with a reaction to landscapes around the world. This piece is more than usually biographical, it is a landscape of the heart, a piece I was compelled to make with a technique I have been developing for the last decade. My thanks to the Cordis for it’s commitment to this wonderfully diverse medium, tapestry and for choosing Lifetime.

Speaking on behalf of the judging panel following the rigorous selection process Cordis Prize founder Miranda Harvey said: “It is an extraordinary piece by a very gifted artist. When we came around doing the judging, the experienced panel were fascinated by the technique of how it was made. With the light falling on the silk, you get this very delicate web of little patterns. It’s incredibly lyrical, based on a poem, which is shared in the exhibition catalogue. It’s a very subtle piece. It has a lot of paradoxical qualities. So it’s very soft. It’s very fragile. But it’s very rigid. It’s very hard. There are very tiny little incremental changes in it. And yet, it goes through a whole spectrum of shades and textures. I mean, it is an extraordinary piece to have been made. I could look at it all day and see more.”

Photo credit Neil Hanna

The Shortlist

The shortlist has been drawn up by our prestigious panel of guest judges; esteemed weavers Fiona Mathison and Jo Barker, Miranda Harvey of the Cordis Trust,  and Emma Nicolson and Amy Porteous representing Inverleith House Gallery.