Showcasing skills from 20 countries
With a history of producing silk and silk-related products that goes back thousands of years, Hangzhou, the host city of the G20 Summit, is staging an event of fiber art involving artists from around the world to explore the charm of one of the oldest art forms in human history.
The 2nd Hangzhou Triennial of Fiber Art at the Zhejiang Art Museum, which opened at the end of August, has attracted 60 influential artists from 20 countries.
The concept of fiber art may not be very familiar to members of the public, but when you speak of embroidery, crossstitching and carpets, it relates to people’s daily lives, says Shi Hui, the founder of the event.
“The materials used in fiber art are the closest to our bodies and our daily lives,” says Shi, who is now the director of the fiber art department at the China Academy of Art in Hangzhou.
In keeping with the theme of the triennial, called Weaving & We, the event encourages public involvement in the event, either by experiencing the interactive artworks or taking part in workshops conducted by the artists.
In 2013, Hangzhou held its first edition of the fiber art event, which attracted thousands of visitors.
It was the first time that the public was introduced to the concept of fiber art.
Shi, the founder, says the plan to hold the event was not based on a whim.
In fact, it was Bulgarian Maryn Varbanov’s idea in 1988 to hold a fiber art event in Hangzhou in 1992.
Varbanov, who came to Hangzhou to teach fiber art in the 1980s, influenced a group of Chinese artists to focus on it, and Shi was one of the master’s students.
However, Varbanov passed away in 1989 with his dream unfulfilled. It took decades of work before Shi could make the dream come true.
Separately, Shi says fiber is nowadays not limited to silk and wool, thanks to the development of technology.
Glass, paper and even stainless steel is now included into the category.
“Fiber art is not only about the material itself. It also involves society, industry, the environment and technology,” says Shi.
The exhibition will run through Oct 25.
Maria Lai’s ScalpBook is a cloth book with words rendered in thread. It’s on display at the Hangzhou show.