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Tapestry - Overall


  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Edinburgh (made)

  • Date:

    1967 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Cohen, Harold, born 1928 - died 2016 (designer)
    Brennan, Archie (weaver)
    Edinburgh Tapestry Company Ltd (made for)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Tapestry woven in wool on cotton warps

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Harold Cohen studied painting at the Slade School of Fine Arts in London. By the mid-1960s he had established himself as an abstract painter with an international reputation, representing Britain at the Venice and Paris Biennales.

Over All was commissioned by the V&A in 1966; the Museum had previously acquired a large rug mural designed by Cohen for the British Government's Pavilion at the Milan Triennale of 1964. The merge of colours in the background is evocative of Cohen's early work but proved difficult to achieve on the loom. Cohen believed that weavers had to be involved in the design process from the earliest stage in order to understand and interpret the design and he developed a unique collaborative relationship with the Edinburgh Tapestry Company's weavers. Cohen understood that a woven textile can 'never look like paint ... for weaving is not a mere reproductive process'. This innovative approach produced one of the workshop's finest tapestries.

A year or so after this tapestry was produced, Cohen took up a post as visiting professor at the University of California at San Diego, where he began to experiment with computers. Some of his earliest computer-assisted works from this period are also in the V&A's collections. In the 1970s, Cohen went on to develop AARON, a computer program that uses artificial intelligence to create machine drawings based upon the artist's accumulated knowledge and experience.

Physical description

Tapestry woven in wool on cotton warps. With a large complex abstract pattern of ameboid shapes strongly outlined in black, enclosing discs of blue and green, and arranged in a regular grid pattern against subtly shaded areas of red and blue. Other areas enclosed have graduations of red to blue with variations caused by using weft threads of varied size. There are discs of blue on the same blue, and the discs are woven in a much thicker weft. In the bottom left hand corner is an area of yellow and green with a grid pattern of black dots.

Cotton warp of approximately 10 threads to the inch. Therefore there are approximately 960 warp threads. Woollen weft, varying from 10 to 14 weft threads to the inch, depending on the texture required by the pattern.

The artist's monogram 'HC' and the Dovecot mark are woven in green on the right about a third of the way down. The top two inches and the bottom two inches have been folded back and over sewn. At the top there is a canvas strip sewn on and press-studs fitted to it for display purposes.

Place of Origin

Edinburgh (made)


1967 (made)


Cohen, Harold, born 1928 - died 2016 (designer)
Brennan, Archie (weaver)
Edinburgh Tapestry Company Ltd (made for)

Materials and Techniques

Tapestry woven in wool on cotton warps

Marks and inscriptions

Designer's monogram, on the right about a third of the way down

Dovecot mark
Weaving workshop mark, on the right about a third of the way down


Height: 244 cm, Width: 244 cm, Height: 96 in, Width: 96 in, Weight: 15.5 kg weight of tapestry on roller

Object history note

Registered File number 80/692.
The normal conventions of tapetry weaving have been deliberately ignored in order to reproduce as faithfully as possible the idea and structure of the original painting.

Descriptive line

Tapestry 'Overall' woven in wool on cotton warps, designed by Harold Cohen, woven by Archie Brennan for Edinburgh Tapestry Company Ltd., Edinburgh, 1967

Production Note

Attribution note: commissioned by the V&A's Circulation Department


Wool; Cotton


Tapestry weaving


Textiles; Tapestry; Interiors; Scotland

Production Type



Textiles and Fashion Collection

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