“My work is like drinking tea. You understand how and what it is only after drinking it.”

Born Taiyuan, Shanxi, 1961

As a child, Lin Tianmiao spent long hours helping her mother wind cotton, a task she describes as “torturous”. Despite that experience, or perhaps because of it, she became a textile designer, and when she turned to art full-time in the 1990s she maintained her focus on fabric. Many of her works, with titles like Thread Winding, Binding, and Bound Unbound, involve weaving, sewing and thread—often vast quantities of it, painstakingly wound around common objects or connecting them to spools of cotton or silk. Creating these works was “a kind of agony” at first, she says, but it became a meditative process: “Every day I would bind a little, every day the same. I became calm, composed.” The two lithographs of blurred and hugely enlarged faces (her husband’s and her son’s) in Focus No. 1 and Focus No. 2 (2007) also have a material basis. One is partly obscured by coils of thick white thread, the other is spattered with holes using a technique from Japanese lace making.


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