Vietnamese mat weaving art on display online

August 06, 2020 - 16:03
The patterns, colours and technique of traditional Vietnamese mat weaving are on display in an online exhibition through the artworks of Phạm Hồng Linh.


Lost in the Reeds, one artwork in the collection Area Code. – Photo courtesy of the artist

HÀ NỘI – The patterns, colours and technique of traditional Vietnamese mat weaving are on display in an online exhibition through the artworks of Phạm Hồng Linh.

Due to the pandemic, the exhibition was moved online and can be seen at until August 31.

Visual artist and designer Linh created a video illustrating the weaving process with the sound recorded from the loom. She made a digital rendering of the traditional Vietnamese reed mat weaving process.

Through the exhibition Area Code, the artist said she wants to bring Vietnamese artisanship to a wider audience.

Nguyễn Ngọc, a Vietnamese viewer of the exhibition, said she was in awe of Linh's artworks.

“Vietnamese families always have at least one mat to use all year round,” Ngọc said.

“A big mat is a place my family gather to have a meal or take a nap in summer. However, I have never known how it is woven.”

“Thanks to Linh's digital artwork, she codes them actually, I now understand a sophisticated handicraft technique behind a mat,” Ngọc said.

The artworks are inspired by the trade of weaving mat in Cẩm Nê Village, the central province of Quảng Nam, 14km from Đà Nẵng City.

The village was renowned for its colourful and meticulous hand-woven reed mats that were favoured by kings of the Nguyễn Dynasty in the 19th century. The mat took a day to weave, reed by reed, and had to be performed by two people using a simple wooden loom. The rustling sound of reeds and the creaking rhythm of the wooden loom were the heartbeats of the village. Now, very few artisans maintain the craft.

“When I was a child growing up in Việt Nam, like many households back then, my family used to gather around for dinner on a woven reed mat,” Linh said. “Sometimes the dinner would go on for so long that the reeds left imprints on my skin, a memento of sorts for the time shared together."

“Reed mat weaving is a Vietnamese traditional handicraft but has now become a vanishing practice due to industrialisation and a shifting lifestyle. This exhibition is a manifestation of nostalgia, the passing of traditions, and a desire to grasp onto a craft that situates my memory of home.”

“Cẩm Nê mats are different from those that originated from other regions because they are colourful and take much time and effort to make. I want to promote the value of these mats and honour the art of the makers,” she said.

Linh is a Boston-based artist and designer whose work focuses on experimental communication via the convergence of art, technology, and culture. Currently, she is designing self-driving cars.

She holds a BA of Economics from Brown University, an MA in Visual Communication from the Royal College of Art (UK) and is an alumnus of the School of Poetic Computation. She is interested in creating interactive and sensorial environments to connect and communicate with others. Some of her works include explorations of our emotional attachment to smartphones, biases behind facial recognition and crime prediction algorithms, and using code to create visual poetry.

After 10 years away from Việt Nam, Linh hopes to use the skills she’s learned since leaving to remember, reimagine, and recreate her personal experience bounded by the two worlds.

All profits from selling artworks will be donated to artisans in Cẩm Nê Village. – VNS


Phạm Hồng Linh is a visual artist and designer who's active in sharing Vietnamese culture to audiences in US. –Photo courtesy of the artist