Architect Penelope Seidler enjoys recreating her late husband Harry Seidler’s construction drawings in tapestry


It might be a bit subversive to turn architectural drawings into tapestry.

I would like to think so. I don’t know if that’s the case, but some people are a bit shocked.

What parts have you made?

Blues Point Tower and the Rose Seidler House were among the first. And Harry loved it when I did the Blues Point Tower tapestry. I didn’t do the Horizon building, although I did the Sol LeWitt artwork in the foyer. I am now working on the so-called Rose House, which is next to the Rose Seidler House. The drawings I have of this house aren’t very good, so I use old photographs.

Seidler Tapestry from Seidler House, Wahroonga.

Do you draw them first, then sew them?

No. I’m working on a report, whatever size I want it to be. And then I calculate all the other ratios. You divide everything mathematically.

Some people probably think it’s not very original. I use old plans. I don’t create anything new. But putting it in a new form gives it new life.

Where do the finished pieces end up?

I have some here at home. And there are some in the office. Family members have a couple. I’ve never sold any, although I think I could.

Doing them is very absorbing. When I come home from something, I make a cup of tea and turn on the radio, and get to work. And the hours can pass. And I’m sorry for having been torn from it.

Have you ever done anything more traditional for tapestry? Flowers for example.

I made a piece from a drawing of a banksia by a botanist during the expedition led by French explorer Nicolas Baudin in the early 19th century. Jonathan Jones, the artist, asked refugee women from the western suburbs to do embroideries of these botanist drawings, and he knew I was doing embroidery, so he asked me to do one too. It is now presented in an exhibition organized by Jonathan at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, then it will come to Sydney.

Is this the first time your work has been shown abroad?

Yes. Not bad, is it?

What other buildings would you like to do?

I would like to do the Horizon. Turns can be tricky. It worries me a bit, but I think I can do it. I could do it then.

And the Sydney Opera House? There must be a lot of Opera needle renderings, don’t you think?

Actually, I wouldn’t mind doing this one. The Opera would be the only building by another architect that I would like to do.

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