Tapestry tales

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By Jane Bowerconsultant to primary schools in art, drama, dance and literacy

Find out how people from different cultures use textiles to tell stories

Stories have been inspiring textile work for centuries, and examples come from all over the world. The A1 poster in the centre of this issue features three beautiful yet very different pieces. Two are inspired by well-known fables by Aesop (one is an 18th-century tapestry panel designed as a screen in France) and the third is a Chinese 18th-century colour on silk painting depicting an archery contest. Perhaps the most famous example of a textile that tells a story is the Bayeux Tapestry (see ‘Essential facts’). Tapestries for grand houses or royal families often depicted triumphant historical events, and served to add a layer of warmth to cold stone walls. Today, we still make quilts to mark the birth of a baby or some other important event.

Textiles seem an appropriate medium for storytelling – we often use textile-based expressions to describe writing. See the introduction to page 16, Spinning a yarn for examples. The activities here offer children the chance to record a story of their own through textiles.

Ages 7-9

A class tapestry

Learning objective: to plan, design and make a class textile piece to show a story relating to your school.

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