I have lived in France for quite a few years now and although I managed to visit the memorable tapestry manufacturing museum at Aubusson – St Jean – I had not entered the Unesco Cite Internationale de la Tapisserie. But today on a bright November Sunday afternoon I made the half hour drive and yes it was beautiful, inspirational, and filled me with a little awe of the tapestry makers and many artisan roles leading upto that moment – dying wool, drawing the cartoons to show colour position, and setting up the looms.
The museum is split into two sections. One part showcases modern tapestries, and currently the Tolkein tapestries, which are based on Tolkein’s sketches, woven true to his use of pure colour, that is taking the paint without mixing with any other colour and using shades with a limited palette. This makes the tapestries sing bright and fresh.
The other half displays tapestries from the 14th to 19th century, with their familiar green, russet and ochre shades. They are artfully displayed within an almost theatre setting, which in itself is impressive.
Some of my favorite tapestries are here, for example Dom Robert. Obviously birds trigger in me alot of emotion.
Bright modern tapestries by Daniel Riberzani featured vegetables and fish.
The fine weaves of the older tapestries contrasted them from the modern, using almost petit point sized stitches to detail faces and create soft transitions of colours. The Elephant tapestry had to be my favorite, due to its size, soft colouring and exquisite detail.
The museum houses training facilities and exhibitions throughout the year. Combined with the manufacture museum and a visit to Felletin, further south where the history of tapestry continues, its a lovely day of historic legacy.