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Developed almost 600 years ago, tapestry is being reinvented today at the Cité Internationale de la Tapisserie et de l’Art Tissé (the International Centre for Tapestry and Weaving Arts) in Aubusson and Felletin, in France. Promoting traditional skills for the contemporary economy, the Centre offers training in the ancient art of loom-setting.
The revival of Aubusson tapestry depends on the transmission of core skills by loom-setters still active today, following the closure of many workshops since 2000, as the trade’s practitioners gradually enter retirement. Loom-setting is still taught on an official training programme, but the average age of the artisans involved means recruiting a new instructor has become essential. A post has been created, and a young loom-setter approached to take on the role, supported by a trade union, the Syndicat Mixte de la Cité de la Tapisserie, created in 2010 by an association of public authorities and industry professionals.
The Fondation d’Entreprise Hermès is financing the young loom-setter’s training as part of its core commitment to support the transmission of traditional skills with particular relevance to today’s economy. Beyond the preservation and teaching of this vital skill, the instructor will support the new Centre’s education and conservation policy, create a corpus of tapestry techniques, communicate with the public at large, oversee a range of innovative projects, and prepare master classes for professionals seeking to expand their knowledge of specific aspects of Aubusson tapestry.
The Cité Internationale de la Tapisserie et de l’Art Tissé is dedicated to preserving and showcasing a vital industry – listed by UNESCO as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity – both as a centre for resources and training, and as a key player on the contemporary art scene. Promoting tapestry to a wide range of markets, the Centre upholds a mission to safeguard and develop the centuries-old art of Aubusson tapestry.