Orkney tapestry gallery weaves new chapter with expansion

A family run tapestry studio and gallery in Orkney is set to reopen next week after a major expansion.

Newly extended Hoxa Tapestry Gallery, OrkneyThe Hoxa Tapestry Gallery in South Ronaldsay showcases the work of renowned Orcadian tapestry artist Leila Thomson.

A graduate of Edinburgh College of Art, Leila creates large and unique hand-woven tapestries inspired by the landscapes, folklore and heritage of Orkney. Working mostly to commission, Leila currently has a four-year-waiting list for her tapestries, which are sold and exhibited around the world.

Opened by Leila and her husband Benny in 1996, the Hoxa Gallery now attracts over 5,000 visitors a year and is an important element of the Orkney Craft Trail. The gallery is managed by Leila, son Andrew, and artist daughter Johan.Jo, Leila and Andrew Thomson, Hoxa Tapestry Gallery, Orkney

Work on expanding the gallery – set in a spectacular location overlooking Scapa Flow – began last year and has just recently been completed. The project has seen the premises double in size, with a new, much bigger and brighter work area created for Leila and the large upright looms she uses to weave her tapestries. In addition, Leila’s daughter Johan – a graduate of Edinburgh College of Art – now has her own studio and gallery to exhibit her work.

The gallery’s sales area has also been renovated, with more room to display prints, postcards and books of Leila’s tapestries, along with Hoxa’s new range of handcrafted rugs. Visitors are still able to watch Leila at work.

Hoxa Tapestry Gallery studio viewThe expansion was part funded by the Thomson family, with 40 per cent of the project costs coming from an Orkney Islands Council Economic Development grant.

Leila said: “The new studio spaces are amazing; high, light, airy and slightly reminiscent of The Edinburgh College of Art painting studios which both Jo and I love.

“We hope by expanding our business and having Jo’s art on show, in addition to our handcrafted rugs, that we will attract many more visitors to the gallery in the years to come, as well giving our regular visitors more to come and see.”Hoxa Tapestry Gallery interior

The Hoxa Tapestry Gallery reopens to the public on 1 April. For further information please visit www.hoxatapestrygallery.co.uk, or check out the gallery’s Facebook page and Twitter account – @HoxaTapestry. Johan also has her own blog space at http://www.jkthomson.blogspot.co.uk/

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