• Posted on June 19, 2012 at 10:03 am

For something we see so little of, the tapestry is a rich source of imagery and metaphor. Once the rich man’s insulating wallpaper, now we tend to see them in dark rooms, faded or disintegrating, protected from the light, their rich colours gone. And yet ‘all part of life’s rich tapestry’ and ideas of crimson threads through the picture remind us that life is a painstaking picture full of many juxtapositions, characters, journeys.

It’s there in the continuity of the stitches, the first use of the pixel or picture element, long predating pointillism too. I hope I have a long canvas left still to be stitched, but what I am seeing so far is a lot of completed journey, a band of work in progress, and a need for a lot more thread. Crimson or otherwise. In graphic design we talk of ‘graduated tints’ where one colour blends into another seamlessly, and I love the way Dru Marland uses natural skies at dawn or dusk as such backgrounds to her illustrations. You have to stand back from old tapestries a bit to see it, but they did their best with the treads they had.

My tapestry has such a graduated tint in its background. We could stereotype it from blue to pink I guess, but that only helps explain what I mean rather than being the colours I would choose. But I see it as a dawn sky rather than a dusk, as light arriving rather than fading, and the continuous whole has a dawning meaning too, a realisation of how the picture is.

Tapestries of course were very expensive, and therefore they got reused, sometimes in parts if the whole was damaged. So you can come across captured scenes in smaller, rebordered tapestries, that are just a glimpse of the whole picture, and which can be very misleading! I imagine the rescued parts made a pleasing picture, and sometimes it might have been a way of losing the bit that was never liked, or keeping the bit that was special.

To some people, it appears I have two tapestries. One that was cut short and a new one started, using ideas of the first, but so different it is a piece on its own. Some people never saw the beginning part in all its freshness, and it is a dim and incomprehensible picture. So the question as always is: wherein lies the continuity? New friends would be very surprised to have the early work interpreted, but I know they wouldn’t ask it to be cut away. I don’t disown it either – it is my story (his story if you want the pun). Some so liked the old, before the dawning light that they would rather cut it off and keep it, as a story ended. And as I stitch away, pixel by pixel, some watch with fascination as the picture emerges, while others ‘rather liked his early work – shame about the new, I really wouldn’t have that on my wall!’

But my tapestry, incomplete as it is, has a beauty of its own, as a unique journey, maybe as my insulation against the winds of life, here in this blog as an illustration for others to see and appreciate (or otherwise). And it is one complete whole. The figure in the top left corner, the character in each vignette (woops! an anachronism for tapestry!) is me. If you cut away the bit you liked you are making a statement about tapestries and how they may be used or reused, but you are also destroying my picture, making my integrity impossible to see or hold.

I like Carol King and have listened to her since my teens. I remember the words of her classic ‘Tapestry’ very well (in full here) including:

My life has been a tapestry of rich and royal hue
An everlasting vision of the everchanging view
A wondrous woven magic in bits of blue and gold
A tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hold

I’m not saying it’s my story, I just like it! And for those who click to the lyrics, or rememebr – I have not turned into a toad.


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