Thursday, March 17, 2011

Celebrate Japan: This is just a sampling of Japanese and Japanese influenced work I have seen in the past 7 years

Before telling you about what is coming up in the next few weeks I have to say the recent and ongoing event in Japan are foremost in my mine. If you have not made a donation to the Japanese relief efforts please make one now Donate online - Japan Earthquake/Asia-Pacific Tsunami

Untitled work by Japanese weaver Mitsuko Akutsu,  from  2 X2 Montreal/ Tokyo exhibition in Montreal
Less then a month ago I was in Montreal to attend the opening of 2X2 Montreal/ Tokyo and to visit with the two Japanese weavers Mitsuko Akutsu, and  Emiko Nakano who are in this exhibition with Louise Lemieux Bérubé, and Julianna Joos. Both have been heard from and have survived. Mitsuko works at the Aoyama Gakuin Women's Junior College is located in the "fashionable" Aoyama district in the heart of Tokyo and Emiko is a former professor from Tokyo Zokei University Both of these school offer textile education and at this point we can only sit and wait to find out about there future.  

Zokie University Textile Blog is still on line its last posting was March 12, I have visited it when looking for information about exhibition in Tokyo and even though I do not read or speak Japanese we know "a picture says a thousand words" or what ever the phrase is.

Emiko Nakano's jacquard "From Where to Where" 1 and 2
The Japan Foundation located at 131 Bloor Street West, Suite 213. Toronto, Ontario is one of my favourite exhibition spaces in Toronto and has brought young artist from Japan to Canada. Last fall the “Winter Garden: The Exploration of the Micropop Imagination in Contemporary Japanese Art”  struck me hard and I had to write about it. In 2007 they presented an exhibition of Canadian artist inspired by Japaneses textile and paper making traditions. fQ present the work from Found in Translation: Interpreting Elements of Japanese Design
curated by Arlene Gehring and featuring weaver dyers Judith Fielder and Nieves Carrasco who work with sshibori and sashiko two methods of resist dying.
The Sun” by Ryoko Aoki installation during "Winter Garden"  (photo taken with permission of Japan Foundation for fQ posting)
Japanese Textile and Fibre Traditions in Canada 
The influence of Japanese crafts is far reaching and world wide. I would just like to point out some of the exhibitions, events, makers, designers and artist working under the influence so to speak. that I have the opportunity to see, participate in and meet for the past six years of doing fibreQUARTERLY  
Handwoven wool,shibori dyed, textured by Judith Fielder image provided by Arlene Gehring

Yvonne Wakabayashi, sea Anemone V, 2007, shibori sculpted silk was part of the exhibition Textile Arts of Canada April 15 – May 22, 2009, mounted to coincide with the launch of Telos Art Publishers latest number in their series # 19, Art Textiles of the World: Canada. at the MCCT photo:Joe Lewis
Yvonne Wakabayashi  a Japanese Canadian who as a small child was interred along with her family during WW2,  works in silk from a small family mill in the Gunma prefecture, Japan, in the Arashi shibori technique. Wakabayashi has developed her own style from this traditional technique. After folding, wrapping and stitching the silk, it has been inflated into sculptural forms rather than just fluffed/fanned out to expand on its own. She created a peaceful looking ‘creature’ made of silk using a mixture of hand manipulated, organic form.. You can read more about the exhibition and book in fQ Volume 5 Issue 2/ spring 2009
Yvonne Wakabayashi, Pina fibre seaforms (set of 2) on exhibit in fibreworks 2010 at Queen's Square Gallery in Cambridge
Mackenzie Frere Recollect 1, linen, turkey red, weft kasuri, five panels each 32 x 149 cm, 2008/2009 from "Lieux de memoire" exhibition curated by Denis Longchamps  for the third edition of the “Biennale international du lin de Portneuf .” 2009 [photo by Joe Lewis taken at Montreal showing June 9th -24th 2010, Maison de la culture Marie-Uguay,
Mackenzie Frere who is the person behind ART/CLOTH/TEXT blog and on-line gallery POPLAR he teaches at ACAD University is a weaver and dyer who has been exploring Japanese dyeing methods like Kasuri.[tied resist] He spent time in Japan last spring with co worker Bill Morton visiting Arimatsu, a town known for shibori [among other places].  Bill Morton, is a master of traditional Japanese fabric dyeing techniques, having worked for a decade at the Kunio Isa Textile Studio, in Kyoto, Japan. Kyoto is highly regarded for maintaining traditional textile techniques.

If you want to find out more about Shibori visit the World Shibori Network


In June of 2008 the World Washi Summit occurred with over 35 exhibitions across and around Toronto "Washi Over Time" exhibit at the Japan Foundation gave an historical over view as a base to the other exhibition. Organized by Nancy Jacobi from the Japanese Paper Place whose dedication to traditional Japanese paper making process brought 3 makers from Japan:  Hiroshi Tamura from Ino- machi in Kochi Perfecture, Hiroaki Imai from the Niigata Prefecture and Shinji Hayashi from Kurotani, to show them how artist from different parts of the world used their paper.
Historical Illustration and photograph of  the continuum (images provided by organizer)
 "On Saturday June 14th 2008 at the Japan Foundation during the final panel discussion the reality of this summit hit home. The exhibitions of the Washi World Summit provided a visual adventure, however, the presence of washi remained constant but undefined. During the Summit the creation of washi was demonstrated, and its usage in a variety of media by a number of artists was explored, but it wasn’t until the paper makers themselves spoke at the wrap up of what the event meant to them that all became clear. Earlier that week at the Textile Museum Hiroko Karuno during her talk about Shifu (paper weaving) said there were 10 people in Japan practising Shifu, on Saturday night one of the paper makers from Japan Shinji Hayashi said when he came to Kurotani 12 years ago, a village with the longest consecutive history of paper making had 30 households involved in paper making; now there are just 3." this if from my post Naming the Maker: washi world summit wrap up

The  Washi Seen Blog  keep a running journal of exhibition and workshops as the happened and provide a good overview of the summit activities the World Washi Summit Website has not been maintained and is no longer up but the archive on the Japanese Paper Place can provide more information of the event and the subsequent exhibitions.   .
sites of interest:

Kochi where paper maker Hiroshi Tamura is from is  the largest prefecture of the four on Shikoku Island. The Japanese Paper Museum in Ino is from  is devoted to documenting this artform, and also sells an array of beautiful paper products.There is a regional /municipal site that is bilingual and the museums site is Japanese only Japanese Paper Museum

Niigata Prefecture where paper maker Hiroaki Imai is from is located on the island of Honshū on the coast of the Sea of Japan.There regional bilingual site is

Kurotani is where paper maker Shinji Hayashi is from i found 2 sites  Kurotani Washi and Kurotani Japanese Paper Hall

FASHION, Art and life 
Woven Jacket by Mildred Avendano: cotton warp, hand spun paper weft,
on display at Kozo Studio 257 Broadview Avenue part of the World Washi Summit 2008

Art Gallery of Hamilton
123 King St W, Hamilton, ON, Canada.

From Geisha to Diva: The Kimonos of Ichimaru, May 10 to September 1, 2008, Organized and circulated by the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, curated by Barry Till

"This internationally successful touring exhibition presents a lavish array of more than twenty kimonos of one of the most famous geisha of 20th-century Japan: Ichimaru (1906–1997). From a life of rural poverty, the adolescent Ichimaru began as a low-rank geisha, and blossomed into one of the most revered and elegant geisha, known to possess the singing voice of a nightingale. Signing as a singer with Victor Recording in 1931, Ichimaru soon left the geisha world, becoming a full-time diva and one of her country’s national treasures. In her lifetime, therefore, the exceptional Ichimaru was a major figure of both the centuries-old Japanese geisha tradition, and the modern, Western phenomenon of popular recording star.

As a singer Ichimaru promoted traditional Japanese music and folk melodies, and continued the geisha tradition of elegant, stylish dress. Alongside Ichimaru’s kimonos, the exhibition includes several related objects, portraits, and publicity photographs of this renowned geisha-cum-diva.

This is from the press release issued by the gallery. I found out about this exhibition while watching OMNI TV it was on a public service announcement about local 'ethnic" events. I got in touch with the Art Gallery of Hamilton. Once I got to the show the other exhibition were brilliant. 

Great New Wave: Contemporary Art from Japan, May 22 to September 7, 2008 , Co-presented by the Art Gallery of Hamilton and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Curated by Sara Knelman and Lisa Baldissera

The textile work Sayaka Akiyama who has created large-scale mapping projects is included in this exhibition. You will see an exquisite earlier work of hers in the entrance foyer, from a residency at the Mori Art Centre in the Roppongi neighbourhood of Tokyo . For this show, she did a 5-week residency in Hamilton two related pieces – a diary project consisting of 14 intimate works that incorporate textile techniques and materials with hand made paper (all made on site, using local materials) and a large map project relating her journeys and experiences in Hamilton.

To read about this body of work and see other images  "The Story of a Walk Told with a Needle "An interview with Sayaka  James Jack published in the Tokyo Art Beat 2009-07-28.

you can also read Leah Sandals interview with Sarah Knelman posted on Thursday, July 31, 2008 Interview: Sara Knelman on "Great New Wave: Contemporary Art from Japan"

There are catalogues for these two exhibition co produce with the Art Gallery of Greater Greater Victoria available throught the Galleries or ABC ART BOOKS Canada  

November 19th 2008, this is an Issey Miyake on loan from Adrian Clarkson opening of The Cutting Edge curated by Patrica Bentley at the Textile Museum of Canada featuring contemporary and historical garments on lone and from the museum's permanent collection.[photo taken by Joe Lewis with permission of TMC}
Textile Museum of Canada The Cutting Edge curated by Patricia Bentley, Nov 12, 2008 - Jul 7, 2009

Methods used to wrap two-dimensional textiles onto the body change and adapt in response to society's needs and cultural preferences. The Cutting Edge will examine the simplest methods for dressing the human form and will trace the development of ever more complex garments through to the twenty-first century.

Miwa Yanagi was part of Great New Wave: Contemporary Art from Japan,  at the AGH 2008
 This is just a sampling of Japanese and Japanese influenced work I have seen in the past 7 years

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