Creative Matters Rugs at The Canada House
It took 11 months, the entire Creative Matters Inc. team, two additional contract designers and a group of talented weavers, both in Canada and overseas, to create 29 different area rugs for Canada House in London. And according to Creative Matters president Carol Sebert, it was worth it.
“Working on this project was a tremendous honour,” she says. “To be entrusted to translate fine contemporary artists’ work into carpets for one of the most prestigious embassies in the Commonwealth is quite a fantastic undertaking.”
Canada House, headquarters of the Canadian High Commission in the United Kingdom, is a historical building at Trafalgar Square in London. For the renovation of this diplomatic building, the High Commissioner Gordon Campbell and the design firm Stantec from Winnipeg, Manitoba, envisioned a comprehensive project based on contemporary art. They asked the Department of Foreign Affairs to invite artists to submit proposals for artworks, which would be turned into carpet designs. The artists were hand-picked from all across the country so that every room, from the British Columbia Room to the Newfoundland Room, would feature the work of an artist from that particular province and so that the contemporary art production of every province was represented.
Once the pieces were selected for each particular room, the Foreign Affairs Office contacted Creative Matters. They knew they could entrust Carol Sebert and her team with this undertaking, despite the very short timeline and the complexity of the project. They’ve worked together for over 20 years, designing and producing carpets for embassies, chanceries and diplomatic residences worldwide.
Sebert describes the process as “a true collaboration of many talents,” from the works of art used for the rugs, created by well-established Canadian artists, to the skilled weavers who produced the final pieces, starting with the conception and ending with the logistics required to ship, deliver and install the rugs. “On our end, the biggest challenge was translating those artworks to production-ready designs,” Sebert says. “Selecting the right blend of yarn to perfectly match the different colours and tones in the paintings and achieving a painterly effect required a lot of detailed work – much like pointillism, where the blending of colours achieved the secondary tones.” While in some instances the Creative Matters team worked from high-resolution scans of the artwork, in other cases they were given the actual artwork itself.
Another aspect that makes this project unique is the dramatic range of styles, subjects and mediums showcased in the various pieces: from magnificent to simple and elegant; from insect wings, fruits, and landscapes to abstract and geometric designs; and the variety of art techniques including oil paintings, mixed media and photography.
Sebert explains that “the objective was to represent Canada, with all the variety it comprises.” The artists were given the room size, shape and use – boardroom, meeting room, reception hall, office or even stairs – and were invited to create an art piece that would ultimately be translated into a carpet that evoked the province they came from.
From the variety of techniques and qualities that Creative Matters uses for the unique conditions of each project they work on, where aesthetic, budget and requirements are taken into consideration, they knew the right choice for this undertaking was handtufted, one hundred percent wool. As Sebert explains, “It’s the top quality for durability. Moreover, it is very easy to maintain and looks wonderful many years later.”
In addition to keeping in mind the resilience and care of the carpets, the Creative Matters team had to consider the furniture placement on each piece. Ensuring that the designs wouldn’t be compromised required an enormous amount of thought and effort. Additionally, the designers translated the painterly effect into wool, and worked with a wide range of blends and variations of colours. They were successful and so was the grand opening. Taking place on February 19, 2015, the inauguration of Canada House was highlighted by a special visit from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and His Royal Highness Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.
“It was a privilege to work with the design team of Stantec and the staff at Canada House,” says Sebert. “I am very proud to have worked with such a dedicated team of Canadian artists, designers and weavers who were able to translate complex and sophisticated pieces of art from across the country into custom carpets that capture the rich diversity of Canadian culture in the 21st century.”
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