‘Fibre art, for me, is a way of writing.’
b. Taipei, Taiwan, 1963. Lives and works in Taichung.
Yang Wei-Lin studied classical Chinese literature before she began working as an artist in weaving and textiles, and her love of language infuses her work. She is a poet of thread, ‘writing’ with a language of stitching, crocheting, weaving, and knitting. Challenging conventional understandings of textile art, sometimes using materials other than textiles, thread or fibre, she focuses on memory and time, as well as words and writing. Many of Yang’s works connect with the profound Taiwanese sense of a somewhat precarious existence, on a small island with a complex colonial history, surrounded by a boundless ocean. Ocean of Cloth Wheels (2013–16) consists of thousands of cloth discs suspended from the ceiling, dyed in various shades of indigo: tilting and turning, they seem to undulate like the surface of the sea. Their cast shadows and concentric circular rows of stitching suggest ripples on the ocean’s surface made by sheets of falling rain, or the indolent movements of drifting jellyfish. Floating Islands (2013—16) is similarly constructed from indigo-dyed fabric attached in variegated clumps, like an archipelago of small islands, to the walls of the gallery space. Mimesis (2011) refers more directly to Yang’s interest in language and Chinese history – she has created an unreadable script, with the ancient Chinese ‘Bird and Worm’ seal script as her inspiration. Yang’s tiny creatures, displayed in a vitrine that suggests a natural history museum, are ‘knitted’ from weathered iron fragments, braided wire, thread, and rusted sponge scrubbers and scourers.