Usk tapestry team close to finishing work

South Wales Argus: Usk tapestry team close to finishing work Usk tapestry team close to finishing work

CRAFTY volunteers are working hard to complete a tapestry that captures the beauty of Usk by the end of March this year.

The Usk Tapestry was the vision of the late Margaret Turner, a talented needle-crafter who died before the design, by Llangybi artist Susie Martin, was unveiled.

Her wish was that the tapestry would express some of the beauty and natural riches of Usk and its surrounding countryside, and the sense of peace she experienced there.

For the last four years or more, volunteers led by the Usk Tapestry Committee have been using their needlework skills to complete the vibrant piece which features the town’s river, Usk Castle and a variety of wildlife and floral detail.

The unique community project is open to anyone and was previously housed at Usk Garden Centre until it moved to an empty shop on Bridge Street, Usk, in August.

Judith Choppen, committee secretary, said: “There are 16 volunteers working on the tapestry under the direction of designer Susie Martin, who also designed the Abergavenny Tapestry and Sarah Windrum, who is the tapestry maker and stitching supervisor.”

The tapestry measures nine foot six by six foot (about the size of a double duvet and is made using simple techniques. Mrs Choppen said the skills and challenges lie in learning how to interpret the painted design onto the canvas using the vibrant wool mixtures that make the project exciting and different.

She added: “We are working towards finishing the tapestry by the end of March and are progressing well. There are some difficult areas left to tackle.

“Completing the sky area will be a big challenge but we have a few ladies tackling it and have had a few new members join recently.”

“We are very pleased with our progress and have settled well in our new premises.”

She added: “As a local Usk project, we are working with local people to identify the best location to hang it where it will be seen by as many as possible.”

The group, which is not a registered charity, had feared it would have to leave its new premises in Bridge Street before finishing the project after being told it must pay rates. The shop’s owner Arthur Griffiths allowed the group to use his premises rent-free for the project but as the listed building has been empty for seven years, Mr Griffiths has not been eligible for rates and assumed the situation would continue.

However, soon after moving in four months ago, the tapestry-makers were told by HM Revenue and Customs they would recommend to Monmouthshire council that they should be rated, even though they were not trading. Monmouthshire council obtained a certificate of valuation, which is valid up to March 31, 2014, that can be used when the property is partly occupied but “for a short time only” and means the group has nothing to pay up until that date.

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