Exhibition: Boro – Threads of Life

Exhibition dates: 5 October – 5 November 2017, Wednesday to Sunday, 3–7pm

In Paris this month is an exhibition on the Japanese textile tradition of boro (some of you may have seen this exhibition at Somerset House in 2014). Translated as ‘rags’ in English, boro is the collective name for textiles – usually clothing and bed covers – made by the poor, rural population of Japan who could not afford to buy new when necessity required, and had to make ends meet by piecing and patching discarded cotton onto existing sets, forming something slightly different each time they did so. Generations of Japanese families, from the eighteenth to the early twentieth century, repaired and recycled all kinds of textiles, from fishermen’s jackets to futon covers, handing them down, and weaving their own sagas and stories through the threads.

This cultural practice is now long vanished. Unused boro textiles tend to be put aside, thrown away or sometimes even destroyed by a society embarrassed by its past. As a result, they are now a rare find. This is a stunning collection of unique Japanese patched indigo textiles, which appear to transcend their origins to become exquisite objects of abstract art.

For more information, visit the website of La Frontiera Gallery, Paris.

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Exhibition: Aesthetics of Boro

Fashion Museum JPN - Boro

Exhibition dates: 23 January – 10 April 2016

For anyone lucky enough to live within reach of Kobe, Japan, there is currently an exhibition of boro textiles on at the Kobe Fashion Museum. The show includes around a hundred works that include peasant wear alongside the work of contemporary designers. Leading the line-up of big names from Tokyo Fashion Week are the elegant Matohu, nostalgia-infused WrittenAfterwards and cult brand Keisuke Kanda.

Boro, a type of rag patchwork made of indigo-dyed fabric, held together with row upon row of sashiko stitching, is a technique that has been used for generations in Japan. But while it used to be the preserve of the poor, this technique has recently caught the eye of the fashion world, and has inspired works for catwalk shows in the West. This exhibition combines elements of boro textiles past and present, and looks to be well worth a visit.

For more information, visit the website of the Kobe Fashion Museum, Japan.