Deeply felt, Pescadores' beauty

Taiwan artist draws inspiration from her home

Chao has deft hands. Image: CNA

Chao has deft hands. Image: CNA

Felted wool figurines lead Chao Gui-fei to create landscapes. Image: CNA

Felted wool figurines lead Chao Gui-fei to create landscapes. Image: CNA

TAIPEI (Taiwan News)--Wool has almost fallen out of use as a clothing fabric after the discovery of artificial fleece. However, it still has unlimited uses for a creative imagination.

Artist Chao Gui-fei (趙桂妃) uses felted wool to create all sorts of figures but also creates stunning images of Pescadores' cliffs and sea. Working as a beautician for over 30 years, Chao has deft hands. She trained at the Japanese cosmetics company Shiseido to become a beautician, working in both Taipei and Tainan. Chao was one of the first beauticians to set up in Penghu.

About 3 years ago Chao had the chance to make a big felted wool doll and fell in love with the possibilities of the material. To start with, she made all kinds of figurines, as she practiced the technique. In her studio there are bright and attractive examples of cartoon characters, flowers and fruit. This year she started creating appliqued images of Pescadores' scenery and found there were even more textural possibilities which excited her.

Chao said that felted wool is a common non-woven fabric among northern peoples , but the craft is gradually disappearing with the availability of commercial woven fabrics. Wool felting as a craft is in a gradual decline.

Chao said that her creation process only needed felted wool and a sharp needle. It took about half an hour of peaceful concentration to make a figurine, but at least two weeks to create the scenes of Pescadores' seasons, fishing villages, temples and dramatic columnar basalt landscapes. For three dimensional felted wool ‘paintings’, it would sometimes take up to six months, going over and remaking just as a painter would. Her painting like images of the undersea world, and landscapes are popular and she has some pieces in Munich’s modern art museum.

Examples of Chao’s art can be seen in Magong Airport and were also displayed at the Xiamen Art Expo and in Malaysia. From Sept. 7, they can be seen in Pescadores' Huhsi Township Household Registration Office.