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Carola Hicks' Legacy to The Pans .....

Biographer of Art Objects par excellence

It was one of our great delights when exploring what next for our Prestonpands Tapestry to come across The Bayeux Tapestry: The Life Story of a Masterpiece, an outstanding book by Carola Hicks. We immediately contacted her at Newnham College Cambridge where she was Director of the History of Art and she responded at once, not just because she was fascinated by our own tapestry project but because she had studied at Edinburgh University gaining her PhD there in 1967. As for our plans to tour the Highlands with our completed Tapestry - she had done the self same as an actor/ member of the University's Drama Society! But most extraordinarily of all, Carola has spent her summer vacations on the harvest at Riggonhead Farm which her uncle had owned at the time.

Her work on the Bayeux gives brilliant insights into what might happen next for our own tapestry as it becomes [it already has of course] objectified/ reified. Napoleon [1804] and Himmler [1944] may not accord their envious attentions but many have and will. We were especially amused at the vaudeville riducle Napoleon had attracted in Paris in 1804. At our own first Private Viewing on July 26th 2010 John Lindsay and others sought to emulate it! But we also know our Tapestry grows its own persona beyond anyone's reach as each day goes by.

It is community art, it is Jacobite history - the Prince's finest hour, it is Scotland's educational curriculum, it is the creation of Andrew Crummy, it is a triumph for social enterprise and logistics [pace the Big Society!], it is the creation of each of 200+ stitchers, it is the pride of those stitchers' families, it is the homes where they worked, it is the venues where it is exhibited from Edinburgh's distinguished Dovecot to Glenuig's fine Hall, it is the man/ the team that toured the Highlands with it, it is the Baron of Prestoungrange who first suggested it, it is a compartor for Bayeux, for Fishguard, for D Day - and to be compared to the Quaker Tapestry at Kendal, it is renaissance Prestonpans, it is renaissance embroidery craft ..... And all that after just 6 months ...

Her study of the Bayeux was of course not Dr Hicks' only acclaimed historical work. The King's Glass: A Study of Tudor Power and Secret Art published in 2007 explores the intriguing story of the stained glass of King's College Chapel Cambridge. Her final work, as yet unpublished, The Girl in the Green Gown, is a study of the owners from the 16th/ 19th centuries of Jan van Eyck's portrait the Arnolfini Marriage in the National Gallery.

Sadly, we have just learnt that Carola Hicks died in June 2010

It was when we forwarded a sincere 'thank you' copy of our official guidebook The Prestonpans Tapestry to Carola Hicks' office at Newham College Cambridge that we received the sad news from her husband, Gary. He wrote:

"She would have been delighted by your letter in which you thanked her for the inspiration of her Bayeux Tapestry book. I will read your material with great interest - it looks a truly splendid project and I wish it well."

Fine Obituaries for Carola Hicks appeared in The Times and Guardian, which are both LINKED DIRECTLY - CLICK HERE.

Published Date: January 10th 2011

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