Tapestry: Art With a History
It has been said that painting is the poor man’s tapestry. This probably seems anomalous to most people, but if you’ve seen a castle-wall-sized tapestry, you get it. Imagine being able to afford one of those!
Until recently, I had only seen pictures of ancient tapestries and they didn’t seem nearly as breathtakingly amazing as they are in real life.
The first few of these awe-inspiring pieces were at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. I walked into the climate-controlled tapestry room and I swear I had to hold back tears. I’m not one for Stendhal Syndrome, so this took me by surprise.
A few weeks later I got a look at some Coptic tapestries at the British Museum. As my friends peeked into sarcophagi, I pressed my nose up to the glass and examined the work. “That’s soumak!” I exclaimed out loud, to the bewilderment of those around me.
Last week I went to Windsor Castle. I took a tour of the royal apartments there and, much to my delight, saw several tapestries on the walls. They were just as lovely as you would imagine and I stood for maybe-too-long staring at each one.
Seeing old tapestries makes you appreciate the rules of the art form. There is something thrilling about being able to identify techniques and then going home and using those same methods yourself.
It’s also pretty incredible to know that you’re a part of a relatively small group of people alive today who practice an art form with such a rich and lengthy history. Seeing these old tapestries makes me feel connected to the past in a way I never felt before.
People may no longer assume you’re royalty when they see a tapestry on your wall (or do they?), but you can still be proud to be a part of an eminent art form.