Ray Dugan’s Bayeux Tapestry

Ray Dugan hadn’t meant to reproduce the whole 71 panels of the Bayeux Tapestry. After all, the original stretches for 220 feet and includes 512 figures (humans and horses).

A selection from the Bayeux Tapestry

However, when the University of Waterloo French Professor spent holidays and sabbaticals in France and visited the museum in Bayeux he was always fascinated by the needlework depiction of the conquest of England by William, Duke of Normandy. “I just thought it was such a magnificent piece of work and such an insight into a period that’s so long in the past.  It just boggled my mind.”

Ray Dugan

He bought a couple of panels from the gift shop and tried his hand on those, but decided they didn’t convey the scope of the original, believed to have been commissioned by William’s half-brother, Odo, Bishop of Bayeux, and likely done by nuns in southern England, probably in the region of Canterbury.  Dr. Dugan decided to see if he could reproduce their work as closely as possible.  He was unable to proceed quickly, since university teaching, a wife and two sons,  not to mention other hobbies (watercolour painting and teaching Scottish country dancing) occupied the majority of his time.

It took eight years to reach the half-way point.  After tragedy suddenly struck his family, he found the tapestry therapeutic and completed it in the next three years.

The tapestry is done in the original eight colours-three shades of green, three of blue, one gold and one rusty red.  Navy blue is used for the Latin text for about half the length, then lettering changes to a variety of colours. The Bayeux Tapestry has been shown in museums and galleries in Ontario, Quebec and the United States.

Speaking engagement: Ray Dugan will be announcing his next speaking events soon.