The Intuitive Thread

Rebecca Varidel
9th Aug 2018

The Intuitive Thread, an exhibition which introduces four textile artists from across Japan who re-interpret traditional methods and explore new forms of expression presented by The Japan Foundation opens this month as part of Sydney Craft Week.

While remaining grounded in slow, disciplined age-old processes, these artists challenge convention. Dyed, woven, printed and sewn, the work of each of these artists reflects a respect for natural materials and a commitment to an enduring, living Japanese aesthetic.

The exhibition runs August 24 - October 27 at The Japan Foundation Gallery, located in Sydney's Central Park and features works by artists Chiharu Ohgomori, Masako Kikuchi, Chiho Sasaki and Misako Nakahira.

A specialist in natural dyes, Chiharu Ohgomori uses shibori methods and freestyle staining to create poetic patterns in her contemporary designs. Using natural dyes born from indigo plants and locally sourced vegetation with woven linen and hemp fibres, her works include her original range of clothing and interior pieces.

From a young age, Masako Kikuchi has been interested in how to express her imagined designs through the medium of plain white cloth. After studying a range of dyeing methods, Kikuchi finally discovered her ideal form of expression in black sumi artist’s ink, traditionally used in Japanese calligraphy and brush painting. Fascinated with expression in monotone, Kikuchi primarily makes her dyed textiles into functional objects, such as bags and noren curtains.

Chiho Sasaki renews old garments using the Japanese mending technique called boro. This method aims to expose the naturally worn beauty of cloth, extending its life through resourceful patching, applique and sewing techniques. The resulting works embody the sabi aesthetic, which appreciates the passing of time, through their rough beauty and proud display of natural wear and tear.

As an artist who works with natural fibres, Misako Nakahira greatly respects the knowledge of the predecessors who worked with limited resources, often in harsh environments, to develop them. Nakahira weaves her tapestries with spun wash paper, cotton, and other materials that are ‘familiar to life’. She believes that the hand-woven details breathe life into the cloth. Nakahira’s use of a predominantly white colour palette heightens the effect of the details and allows us to form our own interpretations.

The exhibition opens with an address by curator Eloise Rapp at 6.30pm Friday August 24.

In conjunction with the exhibition, a free film screening of Shibusa Weaving, a documentary film on Japan's denim culture will be held on September 5.

Image of textiles by Takarajima Senkou