Travels in Scotland Post 11: Open Studios in Argyll: Meeting a Tapestry Artist

Welcome to my series of blog posts Travels in Scotland. Whether you're planning a trip, reliving a memory, or relaxing into some armchair traveling...thank you for joining me! Here I will show you images & share stories of my one month travels through Scotland. I'll cover this beautiful country of mountains, rivers, glens, islands, history, and, of course, fiber and textiles.

Wow, did I feel lucky that my stay in Argyll & Bute coincided with the Open Studios Artmap Argyll. This meant that we could combine our sightseeing with stopping at artist studios along the way. First, we stopped at the home studios of Margaret Ker and Arthur Ker, both artists deeply tied to the landscape.  Margaret is a mixed-media artist and jeweler interested in the sacred labyrinth form. Arthur is a painter of trees and for the Open Studio, he developed a video presentation showing the layering of his work.  


Argyll is the central west coast of Scotland.  The roads are narrow and wending. Navigating is sometimes on a wing and a prayer but every turn reveals something surprising. Single track roads give way to two lane roads and change back again. After stopping at a playground, we got directions to our final destination of the day, the East Cottage Weaving Studio Gallery of Louise Oppenheimer.

tapestry artist louise oppenheimer

I have been studying tapestry with Rebecca Mezoff both online and in-person since 2019 and like many people looking for visual inspiration, I follow many tapestry artists on Instagram.  Instagram is mostly a visual medium, so seeing photos of tapestries finished and in process is very interesting and inspiring.  But it is not a substitute for seeing tapestry in-person. However, this is easier said than done. Even if museums have tapestries in their collections they are not always displayed and when there is a tapestry weaving exhibition (like this Spring 2024 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY) it's not always possible to get there. I've been following Louise Oppenheimer for a number of years on social media, but it wasn't until I saw her name on the Open Studios Artmap Argyll, did I think I would have the chance to meet her or visit her studio.


Tapestry weaving is a very slow, meticulous and individual pursuit. So, being invited into an artist's studio to not only view their finished work up close with the naked eye, but also to see their set-up, supplies and works in progress, is a rare treat.


Louise was so gracious and unfurled her unframed finished work for me to see.  Although photos on Instagram are inspiring, seeing the pieces in person is the only way to get a sense of scale and the true color. And with true Scottish hospitality, Louise made me a cup of tea with milk and biscuits.  I was in the studio with Louise for over an hour and Paul was out on the street chatting with other carloads of open studio visitors.  Meanwhile, the sheep grazed in the pasture next door.


Louise was selected to create a new work to commemorate the re-opening of the Kilmartin Museum, which is not far from her home-studio and she exhibits in local galleries.  Louise's work embodies the coastline and sea, the rhythms and colors of tides and seasons, and the ancient landscape and artifacts that fill this western coast of Scotland.  It was a privilege to spend time with her in her studio workspace.


Find out more about Louise Oppenheimer on her website and Instagram. Watch the short 1:47 video below to hear Louise talk about her tapestry in her own words.

kilmartin glen

Kilmartin Glen is a region on the west coast of Scotland containing the most archeological rich remains in all of Britain. The ancient seat of Scotland's first kings, there are 800 sites to visit including standing stone cairns, cup circles, burial stones, and rock carvings- indicators of the ancient past. You could easily spend a week in this area wandering the paths and visiting the Kilmartin Museum full of artifacts.


Of personal interest to me, was that 1,500 years ago, Dalriada, an ancient kingdom tribe encompassed present day Argyll, Scotland and County Antrim, Northern Ireland, both places of my ancestry.


Nearly Wild Weaving connecting tapestry with nature has a recorded conversation with Louise Oppenheimer and many other tapestry artists

Kilmartin Museum renovated and reopened September 2023, displaying 12,000 years of history

Kennita Tully's blog: Visit with Louise Oppenheimer

Culture, heritage and art in Argyll: Wild About Argyll and the Isles

COMING UP IN TRAVELS IN SCOTLAND POST 12: Final blog post - Haste ye back

Thank you for reading my blog post. Travels in Scotland is a 12 part blog series filled with photos and stories of a fiber artist's journey through a beautiful country, encountering a land with a deep textile history, stunning landscapes, and of course sheep!


You can read all of the Travels in Scotland blog posts on my website.  I invite you to travel along with me, along the coast and through the mainland hills seeing, experiencing and learning about this place called Scotland.Turas math dhuibh! (Good journey to you!) Amy

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