Might a new direction be looming for Tracey Emin? The artist, moving on from patchwork blankets and embroidery, is trying out tapestry for the first time and is collaborating with weavers at the West Dean Tapestry Studio on a reworking of her Black Cat – a "rather demonic self-portrait in a long black dress" – in thread.
The studio in Chichester, one of only two in the country, was founded in 1976 when Henry Moore's daughter asked if the weavers could work their magic on one of the artist's drawings. Since then they have reworked Howard Hodgkin, among others. Emin represents a new challenge.
"There are lots of layers in the painting because she worked on it over several years," says Caron Penney, the studio director. "But Tracey has chosen a technique which enables a great deal of subtlety in the weaving." The tapestry will take two weavers, including Penney, six months to complete, using traditional Gobelin techniques that haven't changed in over 500 years. "So far she's thrilled to bits," says Penney, who has been sending weekly updates to Emin.
Though the finished work will exhibit under Emin's name, Penney will leave her own quiet mark, working her initials into the "selvedge", or hem, that runs inside the frame. The Black Cat will have its only public showing at Collect, the contemporary craft fair at the Saatchi Gallery in May before going back to hang in Emin's studio.
Chortle pulled out the stops for its 10th Comedy Awards this week with a party at Floridita in London's Soho. Among a stellar line-up of presenters was Lembit Opik who attended with a pneumatic blonde, and seized the chance to poke fun at his old boss. "And the award for Best Headliner goes to... Nick Clegg," he joked, to a mild ripple. Victoria Wood, honoured for her Outstanding Contribution to Comedy, received a starstruck five-minute standing ovation. It wasn't always so easy to work the crowd, she admitted. At the recording of the pilot for Wood and Walters in 1980 she found herself faced with an unimpressed crowd. "It was as if the producers had gone round Manchester on a bus with, 'if you don't like fun, get on' written on the side."
Much pride in Frankenstein
Spoiler alert! Audiences attending the press night of Greenland at the National Theatre were surprised to be given a free sneak preview of the theatre's much-anticipated Frankenstein last week. In the final scene of the climate-change drama, the stalls are showered in paper as a helicopter "lands" in the snowy wastes. Pre-empting criticisms of the environmentally unfriendly effect, the crew raided the theatre's recycling bins for their snow. While most ended up knee-deep in waste paper and old scripts, a lucky few left grasping pages of Nick Dear's newly minted take on Mary Shelley's monster, a full three weeks ahead of official opening. "We've had to be a little more careful about what we use since that happened," a theatre source admits. "But we're still recycling everything that doesn't get taken home." Of course.
Knight in da house
Could this be the first time that the Tabard Theatre has welcomed a knight of the realm? Next month, Daniela Lavender, the 35-year old Brazilian actress last seen in Ali G Indahouse, makes her UK theatre debut at the tiny 80-seat pub theatre in Turnham Green. Lavender will star in A Woman Alone, the 1991 play by Dario Fo and Franca Rame, about a woman trapped in a marriage who embarks upon a passionate affair with a young boy. Likely to be on the front row come opening night is her husband of three years, Ben Kingsley. Note to ushers – he likes to be called "Sir".
This charming man
Colin Firth, take note. The bar on charming acceptance speeches was raised this week at the Evening Standard British Film Awards by John Krish. The veteran film director won the Best Documentary prize for A Day in the Life: Four Portraits of Post-War Britain, fending off modish competitors Banksy and Vadim Jean. Taking to the stage, he declared, "I was discovered by the BFI at 80, by the critics at 87, and this is so much better than an obituary." The oldies are always the best.