Canterbury Festival is delighted to support an exhibition of a new artwork, the Tapestry of Light: Intersections of Illumination - a breath-taking neon illumination on show during the Festival at the Cathedral Chapter House. 

The tapestry recently had its world premiere in Brussels and will arrive in the UK on the 14 October.  Designed by Australian artist Irene Barberis, the research and execution of the project has taken more than ten years, and has resulted in the largest neon Tapestry ever known. The work has been created out of glowing thread and comprises of 14 panels, totalling an epic 36m long by 3m high. 

It is a recreation of the exquisite 14th century Tapestry of the Apocalypse, a medieval French set of tapestries commissioned by Louis I, the Duke of Anjou — now on display at the Chateau d'Angers. London-born Australian artist Irene Barberis first became interested in its recreation in the 1980s. "No women had worked with the full cycle of the Apocalypse and I wanted to fill the gap," she says. As such, it is the first adaptation of the medieval Angers Tapestry by a female artist in 500 years.

Irene, who is based in Melbourne and London and whose works are held in collections in Australia and throughout the world, says she was inspired at the turn of this century when “a ripple of apprehension seemed to move out around the globe”. She continues: “I stood in front of the Angers Tapestry of the Apocalypse in France around the same time; its scale, complexity and poetry were overwhelming. In that moment I imagined a new work of art, one that would be radiant and glowing, a massive new articulation of the book of the Apocalypse also in tapestry.” 

Irene’s recreation is little short of stunning. Using cutting-edge nanoparticle technology in its threads, her extensive research for her materials has enabled the tapestry to emit in darkness for up to eight hours.

Of the effect, Irene says it is “something that would envelope and immerse people in light; a work which would be experienced and 'read' in multiple ways, a new uncovering of an ancient text combining lineages of tradition and contemporary cutting-edge technology.”

After showcasing the artwork at part of Canterbury Festival, Barberis' work will be touring museum and cathedral spaces across Europe, the UK and the USA.

See the Tapestry of Light from the 14 October – 4 November at Chapter House, Canterbury Cathedral. More information on The exhibition is free to enter, but normal entry charges to the precincts will apply. 

Join us for a conversation with the Cathedral’s Canon Librarian, Christopher Irvine; Tapestry of Light artist, Irene Barberis, and Curator, Dr Michelle Brown, who will discuss the making of the Tapestry of Light, context and the challenges of exhibiting art in sacred places. 14 Oct, 19.00-21.00. Tickets £10.50 available via 

There is an opportunity to meet the artist, Irene Barberis, and find out about the creative process and the making of this extraordinary artwork. 21 Oct, 12.00-14.00, Chapter House. Free, however normal Precincts charges apply.