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
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.
Miracle Matthew, my computer man has been and fixed my recalcitrant computer.
Today is the anniversary of the birth of an important person in our lives, Dame Elisabeth Murdoch. She lived a full and exciting life, supporting the Arts, amongst her wide and varying interests. We were lucky enough to be living nearby as caretakers at McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park; where she took a particular interest. We could see her warmth and genuine caring at close hand.
Not only was Dame Elisabeth an icon; she inspired others to fulfil themselves to become better people. One can’t pass Cruden Farm without thinking of her. Her trees will remain to benefit generations to come. Her garden continues to raise money for the many charities she supported and remains an oasis in Langwarrin.
There is now a Peter Corlett sculpture of her to inspire those who visit the Frankston Arts Centre. For those of you in the city, all three venues are worth a visit. Make sure you make a booking at McClelland Gallery and Sculpture Park for a wonderful lunch; allowing time to walk around the park to see the sculptures, before visiting Cruden Farm. The gallery should be able to tell you if it is a Cruden Farm open day.
It would have been Dame Elisabeth’s 105th birthday today, the year that she had hoped to achieve. Still 103 is no mean feat. There will be many people remembering her today.