UK artist Peter Doig has produced a unique rug in aid of Tomorrow’s Tigers, a fundraising project aimed at saving wild tigers whose numbers have shrunk by 95% over the past century. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) initiative, which involves 12 artists in total, was devised by the curatorial collective Artwise.
The rugs, produced by the specialist producer Christopher Farr, are each made in a limited edition of up to ten, priced between £10,000 and £150,000. Doig’s rug is priced at £60,000 and produced in an edition of eight with the final two priced at £70,000 each. Other participating artists include Rose Wylie, Kiki Smith and Ai Weiwei; all of the rugs are on display at Sotheby’s London (until 29 November).
Doig explains to The Art Newspaper that he took on the project “for a few reasons—it’s a very good cause but it’s also an interesting project. The combination of the two was very appealing. You’re not often offered the opportunity to make something drawing on this incredible tradition, combining incredible craftsmanship. The artist also gets a rug [as their contribution].”
The Tiger Rugs of Tibet show held at London’s Hayward Gallery in 1988 was a reference point. “I looked at a lot of Tibetan traditional rugs. I wanted to do something related to this tradition but did not want to go completely off on my own. I wanted to give it a new narrative,” says Doig.
The process of creating the rug was “thrilling” says Doig. “You’re not making a one-to-one mock up. I made a piece, a small gouache, which had to be interpreted so it can be turned into something much bigger. A [specialist producer] at Christopher Farr scaled up my work.
“We chose the wool colours together, creating a colour palette in wool and silk using Christopher Farr’s vast range of colours; they had to almost add colours that don’t exist to make it look like the colours that exist in the maquette.”
Doig’s imagery, which shows two tigers boxing, is a play on fighting for survival, the artist says. “Maybe these are the only tigers left and they’re in some sort of circus, fighting for our entertainment,” he says.
And what was it like seeing the final product? “The tigers are hand knotted in 100% silk [the background is in matt wool]. It is all cut at the same grade so there is no variation there. It’s very flat and very intense. I was blown away when I saw it,” Doig says.
The presentation at Sotheby’s also includes a separate exhibition with works by artists such as Chila Kumari Singh Burman and Karen Knorr (prices range from £100 to more than £50,000). Profits from sales of both the commissioned tiger rugs and themed exhibition go towards supporting tiger conservation in 13 tiger range countries including Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia and China. The rugs can also be bought through the Art for your World website.