In anticipation of our Japanese Textiles Pecha-Kucha event taking place this Saturday, we’ve decided to treat our online readers to some wider reading from our speakers to whet your appetites. Issue 81 Japan Blue was the fastest selling of all our (almost) 100 magazines, and spotlighted the intense, indigo blue that so startled the English scholar who coined the phrase during his visiting to Japan in the 18th century. Many of the speakers in this week’s Pecha Kucha (meaning chit-chat) wrote for the issue and will be discussing Japan’s rich textile culture, from techniques such as Sashiko, Boro and Shibori, to the history of Japanese fabrics.
Tim Parry Williams, Professor of Art (Textiles) at the University of Bergen, Norway, is an internationally recognised expert on Japanese textile culture and will bring his extensive knowledge of local crafts and industry to our talk. He laid out a topographic view of Japanese textiles in Issue 81, illustrating the different techniques, motifs and designs that are particular to the different regions and islands of Japan. Ronda Brown, co-curator and editorial director of browngrotta arts, wrote for us about four contemporary artists who each straddle and bridge Japanese and US cultures in their work. While their preoccupations are similar, they each achieve strikingly varied results and illustrate the value of bicultural influence.
Image: Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), Narumi, from an untitled series of Fifty-three Stations of the Tokaido Road. Japanese, Edo period, about 1804. Woodblockprint, ink and colour on paper, 12.4 x 17.7cm
Yoshiko Iwamoto Wada is an artist, curator, researcher, and an exponent of traditional and sustainable practices in textile production. In her article Passion Flower: A passion for petals and insects, she wrote about the colour red and the layers of cultural meaning that unfurl from the precious dye of safflower petals. Used by courtiers and courtesans to colour lips and for clothing that would be worn close to the skin, the vibrant rouge symbolised style, passion, femininity and wealth. The petals yield a range of colour from burning red on silk, to neon pink on ramie but the dye fades over time, imbuing its meaning with transience and the Japanese aesthetic of ephemerality.
You can read the articles mentioned above in full in our digital version of Issue 81 Japan Blue, as well as content from our other contributors.
To book tickets for our Pecha-Kucha this week, visit the event page: Japanese Textiles Pecha-Kucha.