Yao Huifen Jiangsu, China

Senior Research Fellow and craftsman; National Intangible Cultural Heritage successor. Born in Jiangsu Province, she is the fourth generation descendent of the "Needle God" Shou Shen. Yao Huifen has practiced the art for more than thirty years. She is proficient in a variety of embroidery techniques, specializing in portraits and Chinese freehand ink painting embroidery.

From 1991 to present, Yao Huifen's embroidery has won dozens of provincial and national arts and crafts awards. She was elected as "China's 2013 Annual Representative of the Arts and Crafts Industry". She pioneered the "simple needlepoint" technique, and made in-depth explorations into Chinese freehand ink painting embroidery. She repeatedly served as an ambassador of embroidery to France, Italy, Britain, Russia, and other countries for cultural exchange. Her works have been collected by the "British Museum," the "Museum of Fine Arts, University of London," and domestic art museum collections.

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Q

Time Required to Create a Piece of Art

A

Different embroidery stitches are required to produce patterns that depict different themes. It may take dozens of days to several years to complete a piece. For example, it took me seven months to complete The Portrait of Zhang Daqian (or Chang Dai-chien, one of the best-known Chinese painters of the twentieth century). And it took a dozen of embroiderers and me nearly two years to complete another piece—Gu Su Fan Hua Tu (Prosperous Suzhou).

Q

Basics and Time Required to Master the Art

A

The basic elements to master the art are enthusiasm, perseverance, comprehension and diligence. It usually takes about three to five years for a beginner to learn to embroider simple patterns and eight to ten years to consolidate his or her embroidery skills. Whether an embroiderer can become a master depends on many factors, the most important of which is his or her all-around capability instead of the amount of time invested in learning the craft.   

Q

Hopes for Inheritance

A

I hope that more and more young people can join us. This is important because inheritance doesn’t happen without the younger generation. And I also hope for more support from people who care about the development and innovation of this traditional craftsmanship.

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