The Ancient & Modern Award goes to Peter Andrews, doyen of tent studies

By John Scott | January 31, 2014


We are delighted to announce that the £1000 Ancient & Modern award for original research has gone to Dr Peter Andrews (76), doyen of Asian tent studies, with Harriet Rix (23) taking the £500 Godfrey Goodwin prize.

Dreamt up by the art historian, sculptor and author John Carswell a decade ago, the prizes are awarded to anyone under 25 or over 60 – John Carswell tells the story in his article ‘Smashing the Age Barrier. Cornucopia, Halı Magazine and three distinguished London auction houses, Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Bonhams, all contribute to the annual prize .

Peter Andrews (76) and his wife, Mügül Ataç, seen together at the first Yurt-Makers’ Conference in the Ardeche (photo: Spirits Intent), have spent much of their lives 'studying nomadic and urban tents from Morocco to Mongolia’. Trained as an architect, Andrews' monumental survey of tents began in 1966. What prompted his request was a remark by Arthur Upham Pope, the pioneering Persian art expert: ‘no one has ever considered tents seriously as architecture’.

The award will support the examination and recording of two tents ‘of unique importance’: one belonging to the legendary Tipu Sultan (1725–50) at the National Trusts Powis Castle in Wales and the 1535 Tienda de Campaña in Toledo – ‘the first is the only complete tent attributable to a major Indian ruler, and the second as probably the oldest surviving Indian tent in the world… No technical details of either have been published. They should be documented in their entirity, and placed in context. Most Indian tents survive only as panels dispersed in collections,’ Andrews says.

The data appear in the second volume of Peter Andrews’ comparative study of historic Indian tents, initiated by the Calico Museum of Textiles in Ahmedabad, and illustrated with colour plates and the beautiful drawings executed by his wife, a granddaughter of Atatürk’s famous finance minister. The first phase of this massive project covers the tents in Ahmedabad itself, is now on press. Part 2 will be devoted to tents outside the museum. The fieldwork is nearly complete.

This drawing by Mügül Ataç depicts a ceiling panel from the Shah Jahan tent at the Calico Museum of Textiles, Ahmedabad (inv. CMT 654).

 

The Godfrey Goodwin Prize was set up for the runner-up to the Ancient & Modern award, in memory of the great Ottoman architectural historian, who was one of the prize’s early judges and supporters.

Harriet Rix (23), this year’s winner, seen here next to some spurge growing in front of a Lycian tomb (photo: Martyn Rix), has just graduated from Oxford, where she read Biochemistry. She will set out in the ‘obscure and ill-fated footsteps of Francis Vernon, a 17th-century Levantine traveller, who made his way across the Ottoman Empire c1676’.

‘I intend to sail where Vernon sailed, and to ride a horse for the rest of the time, as Vernon did – one or other of these, however, may have to be replaced by its more practical (though less picturesque) modern equivalent.’

This year’s award was the most exciting to date, attracting a scintilating field of 29 entries, each worthy of a book, an exhibition or a film, or perhaps all three. We hope they will all find their way into the pages of Cornucopia or Halı Magazine in the coming years. The closing date for the Ninth Ancient & Modern award is April 2015. All entries and enquiries, please to the Ancient & Modern award’s secretary, Julie Witford: secretary@ancientandmodern.co.uk

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