“Embroidery like this takes a lot of time and patience. Making the work was a real struggle, but it was also exciting and gave me lots of ideas.”
Born Baotou City, Inner Mongolia, 1986
Chinese embroidery was refined over the centuries to an exquisite art—one that Gao Rong grew up with. “My mother and grandmother both make beautiful embroidery,” she has said. “They do it as a hobby. Unfortunately this skill is no longer valued, so it is being lost.” Traditional embroidery artists “painted” pictures of birds, animals, flowers and other designs with fine thread. Gao Rong adds contemporary twists—and fresh dimensions. Her works are embroidery as sculpture, every detail stitched on fabric wrapped around sponge stiffened by steel frames and wire. Instead of plum blossoms and phoenixes, she sews perfect replicas of peeling paint, rusty pipes, old framed photos, transport schedules. Level 1/2, Unit 8, Building 5, Hua Jiadi, North Village (2010) recreates the entrance of the cheap basement flat that as a student Gao Rong used to rent in Beijing. Station (2011) replicates with meticulous exactness the sign at a Beijing bus stop, complete with daily timetables and phone numbers scrawled by hopeful merchants. And the artist’s masterpiece, The Static Eternity (2012), reproduces the tiny home of her late grandmother, who taught her to sew. Each piece takes months of work and countless thousands of stitches. For Gao Rong they are labours of love—quiet tributes to family, home, and the simple joys of everyday life.