Peter Collingwood OBE

Peter Collingwood Fellowship:  December 1958 – May 1964 Digswell House

Artform: Textiles

Peter Collingwood was born in London in 1922. He now currently lives in a village just outside Colchester where he has a well-equipped studio adorned with looms of various sizes.

Peter originally trained and qualified as a doctor in1946, but decided to give up medicine in 1950. It was whilst Peter was a doctor that he came across small floor looms in an occupational dept of a hospital. His interest developed and he made a wide inkle loom. from two deck chairs and wove scarves from knitting wool and discovered double cloth He often wove whilst he rode in the back of ambulances.

During his time in the RAMC (Royal Army Medical Corps) he attended night classes at Farnham Art School. After Peter’s required years with the RAMC he had heard that they needed doctors by the Red Cross with Arab refugees in Transjordan. Peter was bowled over by the country and its people, especially the weaving and this was the first time that Peter had seen ethnic weaving and was it also when Peter was given his first piece of textile

After deciding to leave medicine behind he returned to London and went and visited George Maxwell a loom builder. George mentioned to Peter about a well known weaving teacher Ethel Mairet who taught weaving at Gospels (a place of pilgrimage for all weavers).

It was Ethel who taught Peter the techniques of weaving: double cloth, the quality of yarn, texture and colour.

It was from working with Ethel that Peter met Barbara Sawyer and went to work with her in her garden shed in Putney. Peter worked there and helped her produce unusual floor covering that were bought by young architects.

In 1952 Peter was invited to the Lake District (Hawkshead) as an assistant to Alastair Morton. Peter was able to have more freedom over the weaving process. He learnt a lot during his time up in the Lake District also having trips to Morton Sundour Fabrics in Carlisle and to Galashiels on a summer course at the wool technical college.

It was from his experience with Alastair Morton that he decided to concentrate on making rugs.

Back in London Peter found a workshop space and used a second had loom that he had bought from Barbara Sawyer. He started to make small rugs, enough to make in order to sell. There were not many rug weavers around at that time and shops such as: Heals, Liberty and Primavera were the first of Peter’s clients.

Peter also started writing for magazines such as: Guild of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers Journal.

One day Peter received a telephone call from Henry Morris, explaining his scheme for Digswell house and inviting Peter to join other artists and have a live/work space.

Peter describes his experience as ‘life-changing’ and from then on it did change for him.

Peter has had his work nationally and internationally shown and he is now worldly recognised for his visionary qualities in which he has been able to use traditional techniques and make them work for him. –his work is original and unique and what makes weavers of today continue to have a place that is accepted.

Peter’s work can been seen in galleries and in private and corporate venues

Peter Collingwood has also written books so for further information you can look up the following titles:

The Technique of Rug Weaving
The Technique of Sprang
The Technique of Tablet weaving
The Makers Hand
Rug Weaving Techniques
Techniques of ply-split braiding.

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