Sunday, May 19, 2013

Week 20: Tapestry Town

   Maps are the perfect imagery for symbolizing the weave of life.. and a tapestry is a weaving that (sometimes) reads like a book. So in a way, a map is a tapestry of roads that connect the stories... of each house... building... cobblestone... tree... and even grain of sand in that space. This week's book-of-the-week, Tapestry Town, is based on the symbolism of that imagery by using a small city map of Angers, France and photographs of buildings in nearby locales and Paris..  

Red leather spine and a collagraph print of pink roses
Angers is home of the largest tapestry in the world, the Tapisserie de l'Apocalypse. Woven between 1373 and 1382 as a commission for Louis I, the Duke of Anjou, it was 140 meters (459 feet) long and based on the Book of Revelation. It includes 90 different scenes and was originally woven in six panels that were each 78 feet wide by 20 feet high. During the French revolution, like many tapestries, it was cut into pieces and nearly destroyed. The pieces of the tapestry were used for various purposes: as floor mats, to protect local orange trees from frost, to shore up holes in buildings, and to insulate horse stables. In 1848 the surviving 100 meters of the tapestry were found and recovered.  After being preserved, the tapestry was returned to Angers Cathedral where it was housed until a special site was constructed in the nearby medieval Château d'Angers, in 1954.
the pages of the tapestry...
   The miniature book Tapestry Town opens to a map of the town of Angers and a list of many of the main attractions of the town. Set as a sort of table of contents, the first page isn't really related to the photographs in the remainder of the little 2-inch by 2-inch book, but rather alludes to the stature of a place. Just as each individual is unique and valuable, the nondescript buildings in most of the book each have great value to those whose stories are connected with them.
The warp... a map
As a backdrop against the black and white photographs of buildings, there are colorful pages that include pastepaper, printed paper and marbled paper. Marbled paper was very popular during the Renaissance in France and was used often as the endpapers and covers of books. It's nature is unpredictable, just like life.

art and architecture 
The gridded streets of a town can be planned and designed only so much. When looking at the map of a town as old as Angers, which has references that date back to Ptolemy's Geography of 150 AD, there are certain historic and geographic routes that follow their own convoluted path....just as our own odyssey stems from the life stories of our parents, their parents, our ancestors and all those who touched them.  The invisible paths, the overgrown highways, the ghosts of forgotten chateaus are still alive in the tapestry of the tale.
tapestry weave of streets
And yet we still try (and need) to plan our life. To add to the ordinary by embellishing our life with ritual and style... with art and artistry. Like the pink flocking of a page or the romantic architecture of a garret studio, we seek out our ideals of comfort and delight, our muses of creativity and love. And that path adds to the richness of our own tapestry.
Pink flocking and a french garret
Tapestry Town also includes a page that relates to the need for community in our life. The photograph of Cafe de la Maire, a little corner restaurant with outdoor seating shaded by a lone tree, refers to the need for gathering with our friends and neighbors. It is the place where society meets to do the work of getting along, of becoming a powerful force of helping and sharing with each other. The place where we are one as a tribe. The paper chosen for that page shows a vibrant growing vine with a background of gold... the alchemist's holy grail and the epitome of perfection. And so, shouldn't that ideal of community.. living in love and harmony as One... be our own holy grail?

Cafe de la Maire
So the artist paints a picture in hopes of touching someone's imagination... the writer pens a novel in hopes of openings someone's eyes... the poet writes a poem in hopes of touching a heart... and the people keep living each day as a tapestry.
Pastepaper and rooftop of the Louvre