A tradition since 1711
If patience is a virtue and talent a necessary adjunct then Artist Lauren DiCioccio was the perfect choice for this year’s Britain Royal Ascot art commission. Aptly titled, “Like Nowhere Else,” Lauren’s elaborate 48-inch by 27-inch tapestry is a vibrant, tactile depiction of the time-honored icons synonymous with the Royal Meeting.
“My commission to create a tapestry for Royal Ascot came about completely unexpectedly in the autumn of last year,” Lauren recalls. She received an email from an art consultant looking for an artist in the medium of embroidery who might be available for a set period of time to work on a specific project. “Back on that day I had no idea how my life was about to change,” said DiCioccio.
The event, founded in 1711 by Queen Anne, is considered one of the most elite horse racing events in the world. King Edward VI once famously referred to the Royal Ascot races as “a garden party with racing tacked on.” Sporting events are legendary in England, and, similar to our Kentucky Derby, this event serves as the jewel in the crown and a launch of the summer sporting season.
The Ascot Racecourse, an English racecourse for Thoroughbred racing is located in Ascot, Berkshire, just six miles from Windsor Castle. The Ascot hosts 26 days of racing during the year but it is the Royal Meeting in June that draws 300,000 visitors to enjoy the legendary races, pageantry, and fanfare. The most highlighted race of the week is the Gold Cup. This year’s Royal Ascot runs from June 16-June 20.
Every year the Queen and various members of the British Royal Family arrive in a horse-drawn carriage. The Royal procession takes place at the start of each day. Queen Elizabeth, a well-documented equestrian, began attending the Royal Ascot before her rein in 1952.
Fashion is an essential aspect of the social event, but hats, a dress-code requirement, have become an art form of their own. Fashionistas have particularly embraced the over-the-top, sculptural fascinators as de rigueur headpieces. These elaborate head ornaments are still acceptable in the less formal grandstands but no longer permitted in the tighter dress codes of the Royal Enclosure.
DiCioccio researched the history, traditions, and rituals of the event and was extremely honored that she was selected to create the bespoke embroidery for the Royal Ascot 2015. “I knew that people dressed up smartly and wore hats to race meetings in the USA but only now do I know where that all comes from.”
The 48-inch by 27-inch assignment was a considerable jump from Lauren’s more traditional 12-inch by 12-inch tapestries. “The project took me about five weeks in total. That is normally a short timeline for me to do something like this, especially as I needed to reinvent some of my techniques because it was so large. There were plenty of 12-hour days but it was such a thrill,” Lauren said.
A camera crew, set up in Lauren’s Marin Headlands studio in California, documented the fascinating 5-week process. Over the duration the flawlessly rendered Royal Ascot emerges. Champagne and lobster, royal carriages, elaborate hats, and glorious Thoroughbreds all come to life in a tapestry of colorful allure. View the behind-the-scenes video here.
Check out this uniquely special dinner at Royal Ascot.
Read more about Royal Ascot.