Portrait of Dame Elisabeth Murdoch:

This tapestry of Dame Elisabeth Murdoch was completed in 2000, the year Chris and I married. Christopher took photos of Dame Elisabeth in her garden. The chosen photograph was sent to Queensland where Normana Wight gave it a computer treatment adding to the simplicity. Merill Dumbrell wove the portrait. She and Chris worked together on the interpretation. This was done at, as was known then, the Victorian Tapestry Workshop. Since then it has changed its name to the Australian Tapestry Workshop. At that time Merill was a senior weaver.

Dr. Sue Walker was the founder of the Victorian Tapestry Workshop and worked hard getting commissions from within Australia and overseas. She retired after thirty years and wrote a book about the workshop. The book is called ‘Artists’ Tapestries from Australia 1976-2005.’ Published by The Beagle Press, 2007. ISBN 978-0-947349-50-9. This book displays many of the beautiful tapestries the workshop produced during this time and reflects why the workshop became world famous under Dr. Walker’s directorship. The tapestries hang in overseas galleries, embassies, yachts and private homes. Many of the works are to be seen in Australia.


Daughter Rebecca and son, Will in front of the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Tapestry in the Portrait Gallery, Canberra

Daughter Rebecca and son, Will in front of the Dame Elisabeth Murdoch Tapestry in the Portrait Gallery, Canberra

Chris’s first tapestry was made for BHP, and he subsequently had many more woven from his paintings, about thirty in total. It was an exciting process to see his paintings come to life in another form. As Christopher is a colourist, he worked closely with the weavers. He actually worked at the Tapestry Workshop for a couple of years training the weavers.




22 thoughts on “Portrait of Dame Elisabeth Murdoch:

    1. bkpyett Post author

      We were lucky enough to be Dame Elisabeth’s neighbour when we lived at the gallery. She was always so enthusiastic and a huge support. It was her positive attitude that will live on with me.



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