To Sir, with Love…

By ‘Sir’ I mean Archie Brennan. While Archie became an Officer of the British Empire in 1981, he was not technically knighted, so he was never a ‘sir.’ But to those of us in the Wednesday Group he will always be “Sir Archie.”

Thirteen years ago Archie and I began working together on what is now Archie Brennan: Tapestry as Modern Art. After all these years, our book is now winging its way around the world! The pre-orders and the copies I had the publisher send to acknowledge those who helped with the book have mostly arrived at their destinations, including Australia. I’ll admit that I am still a little awestruck that this idea that Archie and I discussed so many years ago really came to be. There were plenty of times when I didn’t think it would happen.

This photo was taken by Bob on the last day I spent with Archie, in 2016. We had finished photographing the works that were still in Archie’s possession. It had been a long day, especially for Archie, who was clearly showing signs of diminished health. Bob and I borrowed photography equipment from Schiffer Publishing. By the time we picked up the equipment and drove to Archie’s house, we’d been on the road for 10 hours. Local friends, Alta and John, not only took care of hosting us and feeding us at their house, but also pitched in to make the process of getting the pieces out of Archie’s attic and into my car, then unpacking tapestries, photographing, recording info, and repackaging the works go smoothly. Really, it could not have happened without their help. John arranged for us to use the social hall at the local fire station for the photo shoot. Thank heaven all those tapestries fit in my station wagon!

This photo of me holding open the book at the image that represents so much to me, was taken by my dear friend LeaAnn. She took it because she wanted to document for me how happy I was that this photo is included in Archie’s story. Near the end of the publishing process my editor decided to delete this photo. I was crushed. Her reason for omitting the photo was that it was just a ‘snap shot.’ She was right, but for me this image represented the culmination of about eight years of work by 2016. And I never saw Archie again, so there was that too. After a week of back and forth, my editor agreed to include it in the book. As it turns out, it’s in a wonderful place, at the end of the index. It stands there as a little sentry, evoking my last day with Archie on the long journey toward this book.

Now the book is arriving in mailboxes all over the US, the UK, and even as far away as Australia. In February it will be available in Canada through Amazon. Weavers’ Bazaar in the UK, is going to carry it, and will have it ready to ship next month. As people have received their copies, they are sending me heart warming messages. I am so moved, I often find myself speechless.

From Julie von Wettberg: It brings together so many threads… weaves them into whole pieces with the accompanying photos you and Bob helped create… and results in such an engrossing story, even from just reading bits here and there.
Your words are beautiful. Your goal… fully accomplished. 

From Anna Wetherell, who has reviewed the book for “Tapestry Weaver,” the journal of the British Tapestry Group: Just to confirm that Archie has arrived. My first impression is that it is a beautiful, well crafted book and I am going to learn a huge amount from reading it! I may well also feel that Archie has arrived in person, judging from Brenda’s introduction…
and from Facebook: It’s superb Brenda! Hugely well done. (being one of the lucky ones to get a chance to review it!)

From Molly Elkind: I LOVE this book! (I reviewed it for SS&D). Tapestry weavers will truly enjoy it and learn so much. Congratulations, Brenda!

From Kay Lawrence, Professor Emeritus at the University of South Australia, and internationally known tapestry artist: The Archie Brennan book arrived yesterday. What a handsome publication and what a massive task! I’m so glad you stuck it through to the end. It will be such an important reference for the development of contemporary woven tapestry in the twentieth century.

To Sir, I miss you daily, and it helps greatly to know that many others will get to know as well as your devoted students have done. You will continue to teach others through those who now teach after being your students, through your video series, and through this book about your fascinating life. With love…

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