It’s little wonder we often talk of ‘life’s rich tapestry’ to describe the vibrancy of life itself; tapestry is a unique medium that captures shape, form, colour and texture – suspending vivid images in fabric for all time. Many ancient examples of the art form are as fresh and vital today as when they were first woven centuries ago.
Practised for thousands of years, the art of tapestry making is woven into a diverse range of cultures around the world. In Europe, tapestry has a long history dating back to the middle-ages when tapestries combined practical, social and aesthetic functions; helping to keep out drafts in chilly medieval castles and baronial halls as well as communicating stories of myth, morality and religion in times when few people were able to read.
While the nature of design themes and the materials used vary across cultures and over time, the process of tapestry weaving has remained largely unchanged for millennia. By weaving interlocking threads, the artist is able to interpret designs with unique results and produce images with a textural dimension – very different from a painting or a photograph.
Alongside painting, sculpture and architecture, tapestry remains one of the most important visual arts – still flourishing today as new generations of artists use the medium to create contemporary designs.