Tapestry Textile Art
Yue ling
Shanghai
Classic
Fabric Decoration

This style of tapestry originated and is still popular in Europe. In the 14th century, German peasant costumes or carpets used this counted-stitch embroidery to match the weaving lines in the fabric. In Victorian England tapestry proliferated due to their manufacture of grid-based material and also their production of the world's best pure embroidery wool.  The variety of patterns became a symbol of nobility.  By the time the 20th century rolled around, the British missionaries brought the art form to coastal China.

Yueling's tapestry loom is piled with dozens of different colours of wool, and her hands constantly change the shade. Sometimes she will split one strand and mix in another to create a blended hue. When I asked where she obtained such a range of colours she smiled and told me that she uses a basic range of dyes and then mixes them to create any colour she desires. Talking to me didn't stop her working. "Tapestry is divided into two basic styles. There is the common popular style, and then there is the museum quality style," she said. "Using monochrome, anyone can do basic tapestry. But mixed-colour work only can be mastered after at least five-years of foundation study. The most difficult to achieve is the tapestry portrait, which can take ten years to master, due to the difficulties of managing shades and creating an effect that is almost photographic in its fidelity."

Yueling uses imported wool for her work and the most complex and fine tapestries may contain tens, or even hundreds of thousands of stitches. The slower and more deliberate the work, the finer and more delicate the outcome. It is not just accuracy, though, that results in a master work. It is also the creativity and artistic spirt of the maker. "Before I started this work, I didn't rush into anything. But I studied and figured out the overall look, the emotion and expressions, the lighting and so on. Then something switches on in my head and the inspiration begins to flow to my needles. Using different colours and thicknesses of wool I bring the image alive in my tapestry."

Embroidery has been Yueling's obsession for thirty years. Whether at work or at home, she is always contemplating how to continue to absorb this western art genre and then mix it with the essence of oriental art. Her fame has grown from her beginnings with inexpensive cushion covers to huge and priceless masterpieces today. I believe her success is not just due to dedication, but also to her deep artistic connection to every beautifully executed stitch.

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