Past exhibition

Aubusson weaves Tolkien: a unique hanging

Du 01 February 2018 au 31 December 2019

The project “Aubusson weaves Tolkien” floods the Cité’s creative platform to showcase there cartoons, which will allow realizing 14 weavings after original illustrations of the famous author of Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien. During the whole year, the visitors can picture there the “making-of” of this monumental weaved project and discover the Tolkien tapestries, as their weaving goes along, amongst them the first ever Tolkien tapestry: Bilbo comes to the Hut of the Raft-Elves.

The Cité internationale de la tapisserie signed a convention with the Tolkien Estate for the four-years realization in Aubusson of an exclusive series of thirteen tapestries and one rug, weaved after the original graphic work of J.R.R. Tolkien (1892 – 1973).

Such a highlighting project of this major area of the author’s work is unseen before. It is also very innovative in the tapestry world, because it is about realizing a narrative hanging which will place amongst the most famous of the entire world, excerpted from the 20th Century greatest literary saga, while this bound between tapestry and literature seems to have been lost from the late 18th Century onwards.

The first step of this project consists in realizing tapestry cartoons after chosen works in collaboration with the Tolkien family. The adaptation of these 14 watercolors into the realization of monumental tapestries represents a true challenge.

The Cité gave its creative platform a new look, with colors of the Middle Earth: the visitors can discover here the necessary process of creation of those monumental weaved works.

The preparation of the cartoon, which provides to the weaver a precise and detailed guide for the weaving, is indeed an essential work, all the more so complex it is about creating a hanging, that is a group of several tapestries: textile interpretation, choice of the color range, technical writings and notes etc.

The 14 chosen illustrations chosen and destined to be weaved are unveiled to the public there.

The visitors discover notably the work on the color choice with help of gouache samples, realized on the cartoons and the string of corresponding tainted wools, but also the technical advices destined to the weavers in charge of the weavings, thanks to a sample weaved by the referent weaver, representing a particularly technical excerpt of the first tapestry to be realized, Bilbo comes to the Hut of the Raft-Elves, and which joined the exhibit space after its “fall from the loom” on April, 6th 2018. Realized by the Atelier A2 in association with the Atelier Françoise Vernaudon on the massive low-warp loom the Cité provides the weavers, the weaving demanded 5 months of work.

This exhibition space is the occasion, as much for the visitors as for the actors of the tapestry in Aubusson, to wander in a reading room, to sink into the universe of the Middle Earth and discover which passages from The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings or the Silmarillion correspond to the graphic works, which will compose this hanging, thus linking the writer and the artist aspect of J.R.R. Tolkien.

4 tapestries are already on display by the end of the year 2018.


Low season: open every day 9.30-12 a.m ; 2-6 p.m except on Tuesdays (weekly closure).

July & August: open every day from 10 a.m to 6 p.m except on Tuesdays (from 2 to 6 p.m only).