Margaret Lee – Silk Legacy

Margaret at work

Margaret at work

Margaret Lee is a familiar name in embroidery circles both here in Adelaide and further afield. Her magnificent exhibition Silk Legacy – A showcase of Chinese Embroidery Tradition is on in the Artspace Gallery at the Adelaide Festival Centre, as part of the OzAsia Festival, until 12 October 2014.

As an artist, teacher and curator Margaret specialises in the ancient art form of Su silk embroidery, which dates back from the Shang Dynasty (1700 – 1027BC). It is known for its detailed, intricate and highly realistic style, and perfectly suitable for contemporary applications.

silk-CranesThe exhibition includes Margaret’s own work, some glorious historical pieces on loan from various Guilds and private collections, as well as works by Margaret’s students, both local and international.

“In China embroidery has always been viewed as an art form as opposed to craft and has left us with a legacy that is as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago. Such a long and rich tradition deserves to be maintained and further developed into the future.” Margaret’s passion lies in preserving the tradition and she is committed to passing this knowledge and skills on. In doing so she developed a program to teach Chinese embroidery to western embroiderers and is currently mentoring students from Australia, New Zealand, France, United Kingdom, USA and the Netherlands. SILK LEGACY is an opportunity to showcase their achievements. “These art embroideries created by western embroiderers in the traditional way shows that art has no boundaries and we are one through our shared passion for creating beautiful art embroideries.”

A close-up of a still life by Margaret Lee. Look at the exquisite stitch quality on the glass ware

A close-up of a still life by Margaret Lee. Look at the exquisite stitch quality on the glassware

Looking at all the extraordinary works in the exhibition, it is difficult to believe that some of these works were created by people who did not grow up in this tradition. The collection of student’s works sits proudly next to the ancient artefacts and Margaret’s own extensive body of work.

The explaining text next to each artwork gives a thorough background of where each piece fits into the hierarchy of silk embroidery skills. Apart from the absolute visual feast, the show gives a thorough education in the understanding of silk embroidery and where it fits into the social structure of both Chinese history and modern needle art appreciation.

I took some photos with Margaret’s permission, but it is very difficult to convey the depth of skill, the exquisite use of colour and fine stitch management in each piece. It is best viewed close up and in person.

This is a must see exhibition. Don’t miss it.

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