There were some wonderful silk embroideries from Suzhou, and three delightful "embroidery ladies" who were showing the way these astonishing embroidered picture were created. The silk thread that is used for the stitching is so fine that it looks like spiders web and they use it to stitch images that, even from quite close up, look more like finely done paintings than something stitched. I had to resort to the short sighted trick of taking my glasses off and peering so close that my nose almost touched the pictures (being careful to not even breathe!) to see the stitching.
This is Winding, by Zou Yingzi, a work based on her own photograph,
then the beautifully named Sorrow of the Lotus, a triptych hung as three scrolls, the detail gives you some idea of the fineness of the stitching, but actually the phone camera couldn't begin to capture it. She is the lady in the red scarf below; you can also see another of her embroideries in the background of the picture, and the image of a panda that she was working on while we watched.
|Traditional backstrap loom|
There was some beautiful Ikat weaving from Malaysia - I loved the comment on the information board
"when the Iban traditional weaver creates her piece of pua-kumbuku or warp ikat textile, it is the belief that she is divinely inspired through dreams to create the motifs. Her weavings are like woven dreams created out of the cotton threads, spun from the cotton that she grows".
You can read more about this tradition, one of learning from the goddesses of weaving here.
These pieces were all in the first room; you then wandered under a canopy of sheer embroidered fabric, and down the stairs, lined with more fabrics - this time batiks from Indonesia and at the bottom, some lovely mulberry fibre hangings and indigo shibori. Particularly delightful was the rippling texture of the stitched shibori, but sadly, can't remember where it was from
Then into the lower room, which was hung with all manner of delights. I made very few notes here, just sat and gazed, wandered about and gazed some more, slipped in between slivers of dyed silk wafting in the draft of my moving, marveled at the variety of textures in a pair of wall hangings and generally felt that I wished I had the strength and time to spend all day just looking! There really was so much to explore, wondering how this pattern was created, what dyes were used for that colour, delighting in the subtlety of shading in the eco and rust dyed silks that shimmered at the slightest movement of air. it was impossible to capture the delicacy, the sheen, the transparency of some of the textiles on show, in fact, pointless to even try; the beauty was in being there, moving in and out, to and fro, from one piece of cloth to the next, comparing, contrasting, absorbing as much as possible.
|Shroud of Ancient Echoes 2 - Susan Fell McLean|
This lovely indigo shibori hanging Tree of Life was produced by artists from the Aranya Natural Dye Unit, an enterprise that provides a way for physically challenged young people from a tea estate in Kerala. Unable to work on the tea estate, they create beautiful pieces of shibori dyed textile that are made into scarves that you can by online here
I loved the complex textures and colours in these two hangings, but again didn't make a note of who and where.
There were yet more shining silk embroideries on this level. Summer Lotus, buy Liang Zuefang - you can see her working on the exquisite piece here, watch the way the thread just floats on the air as she draws it from the bundle to start a fresh colour.
Also her monochrome piece, Lotus Rhyme, which can be viewed from both sides and is a marvel of delicacy of stitch. Again, I had to get right up close to it to even see the stitches, the thread so fine that it disappears the minute you move more than a few inches from the piece.
|Lotus Rhyme - detail|
Some delicious shibori tied dimples of red and orange and indigo
a view of some of the many pieces of woven, embroidered and dyed cloth from around the world
and two lovely simple hanging that were the first things I saw as I entered the exhibition, delicately coloured, with simple repeating patterns, the beauty all in the combination of colours and textures.
All in all, a really enjoyable day out, I was really glad I found time to go.