Exhibition: Katagami – The Craft of the Japanese Stencil

Exhibition dates: 11 April – 7 December 2017

This exhibition celebrates one of the ULITA archive’s major collections – ‘katagami’, Japanese resist dyeing stencils, which form a prominent part of ULITA’s Japanese collection. Through drilling, punching and cutting, a great variety of detailed and intricate designs were cut into mulberry paper. These stencils were used for dyeing designs onto clothing ranging from everyday workers’ garments to the finest silk kimonos.

This exhibition introduces the techniques of making and using the katagami, and explores the imagery used. Although produced simply as tools, in recent years, the katagami themselves have come to be appreciated as remarkable and beautiful objects in their own right. The designs on the stencils amount to more than decoration. Whether it be evoking a season, carrying wishes for longevity and good fortune or containing an entire folk story, every katagami has a story to tell about the fashion and culture of Japan at the time of its creation and use.

Katagami – The Craft of the Japanese Stencil features forty katagami, including stencils lent by the Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture (MoDa),which informed the work of the British textile company the Silver Studio, whilst stencil-dyed clothing lent by Leeds Museums and Galleries shows the finishing effects. The exhibition has been realised with the support of MoDa as part of their Arts Council-funded project Katagami in Practice. The exhibition is written and curated by guest Curator Dr Alice Humphrey, who has worked with the katagami collections in both ULITA and MoDa.

For more information, visit the website of ULITA (University of Leeds International Textile Archive).

Exhibition: Kimonos – Au bonheur des dames

musee-guimet-kimonos-au-bonheur-des-dames

Exhibition dates: 22 February – 22 May 2017

Pieces from the collection of the famous Matsuzakaya fashion house are currently being exhibited for the first time outside of Japan, at the Musée Guimet in Paris. When shown together, they offer an opportunity to witness the evolution of Japanese fashion from the Edo period (1603–1868) up to the present day. The exhibition follows the development of the kimono and its accompanying accessories, in order to illustrate the position of women and the way in which women’s bodies are viewed in Japanese society, but also the ways in which these have been reinterpreted in contemporary Japanese and French fashion.

Originally worn as underclothing before being adopted by samurai and courtiers, and eventually becoming everyday wear for all social classes, the kimono, known as ‘kosode’ in the nineteenth century, is the signature item of Japanese dress. It wasn’t until the middle of the nineteenth century that kimonos were worn as indoor dress by elegant women in France, at a time when a taste for ‘japonism’ was in vogue with fashion designers such as Paul Poiret (1879–1944) or Madeleine Vionnet (1876–1975), whose diaphonous creations with flowing sleeves resemble the loose construction of kimonos.

For more information, visit the website of the Musée Guimet, Paris.

Exhibition: Layers of Influence – Unfolding Cloth across Cultures

vancouver-museum-of-anthropology-layers-of-influence

Exhibition dates: 17 November 2016 – 9 April 2017

From birth to death, humans are wrapped in cloth worn for survival, but more importantly, wear clothing as an external expression of their spiritual belief system, social status and political identity. This stunning exhibition will explore clothing’s inherent evidence of human ingenuity, creativity and skill, drawing from the Vancouver Museum of Anthropology’s textile collection — the largest collection in western Canada — to display a global range of materials, production techniques and adornments across different cultures and time frames.

Curated by Dr Jennifer Kramer (Vancouver Museum of Anthropology Curator, Pacific Northwest), Layers of Influence will entrance visitors with large swaths of intricate textiles often worn to enhance the wearer’s prestige, power and spiritual connection, including Japanese kimonos, Indian saris, Indonesian sarongs, West African adinkra, adire and kente cloth, South Pacific barkcloth, Chinese Qing dynasty robes, Indigenous Northwest coast blankets, Maori feather cloaks and more.

A sumptuous feast for the eyes, the exhibition is an aesthetic and affective examination of humanity’s multifaceted and complex history with cloth and its ability to amplify the social, political and spiritual influence of the wearer as a functional expression of self-identity.

For more information, visit the website of the Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver, Canada.

Exhibition: Kimonos from the Okura collection

rijksmuseum-kimonos-from-the-okura-collection

Exhibition dates: 21 October – 13 December 2016

Discover the colourful tales from ‘No’, one of Japan’s oldest forms theatrical forms, this autumn. Last month, the Rijksmuseum unveiled seven magnificent No theatre kimonos that exemplify the changes in No through the centuries.

No theatre originated in the fourteenth century and is a stylised Japanese dramatic form in which song, music and dance come together. The highlight of the presentation is a magnificent eighteenth-century kimono with embroidered moonflower tendrils on saffron-coloured woven silk damask.

The seven kimonos from the Okura Collection provide a representative overview of No theatre costumes. They give an impression of the colourful atmosphere that must have existed during No performances in the past. The leading man who slowly made his entrance, looming up in the half-darkness of the bridge to the main stage, with an abundance of fabrics decorated with gold, silver and contrasting colours glittering in the subdued light.

That atmosphere was also created by the masks that the actors wore during their performance. The masks conveyed the personality of their character. A number of these masks are also on display, as well as prints that show how the colourful kimonos were worn, often layered over each other.

For more information, visit the website of the Rijksmuseum, Netherlands.

Exhibition: Japan – Modern. Elise Wessels Collection

Rijksmuseum - Japan. Modern. Elise Wessels Collection

Exhibition dates: 24 June – 11 September 2016 

For the first time ever, the Rijksmuseum will be presenting 170 Japanese prints from the Elise Wessels Collection, picturing Japan’s rapid modernization during the opening decades of the twentieth century. Alongside prints, the exhibition will feature kimonos and lacquerware from the Jan Dees and René van der Star Collection and posters on loan from the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo.

In the early 1900s, Japan was booming. Its modern urban centres offered a fertile climate for burgeoning industries and gave rise to new forms of leisure. As in Europe and America, women were pushing back old boundaries, forging a new model of the ‘modern girl’. Alongside optimism, there was also a prevailing sense of nostalgia, fed by feelings of uncertainty. In this era of vast change, the past was glorified as an ideal.

With Japan in the midst of this whirlwind development, a devastating earthquake struck in 1923, ravaging the city of Tokyo and many towns and villages for miles around. Work immediately began on reconstruction of the country’s capital, putting the pace of modernization into an even higher gear. Synthetic fabrics made clothing, including kimonos, more affordable, and in their window displays the new department stores showcased the latest fashions to tempt shoppers. By 1930, Tokyo was a modern world metropolis that bore little resemblance to the city it had been just a few decades earlier.

Dedicated to Japanese prints from the first half of the twentieth century, the Elise Wessels Collection is unique in the Netherlands and among the best in the world from this period outside Japan. The collection currently contains some 2,000 prints of exceptional quality, collected over a twenty-five-year time span. With a large selection of prints in both the Shin hanga and Sōsaku hanga styles represented, the collection is furthermore unusual in offering a virtually comprehensive overview of Japanese printmaking during this period.

For more information, visit the website of the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Exhibition: Mood Indigo – Textiles from around the World

Mood Indigo

Exhibition dates: 9 April – 9 October 2016

‘Mood Indigo: Textiles From Around the World’ honours the unique ability of the colour blue to create many moods in cloth.

Drawn primarily from the Seattle Art Museum’s global textile collection, ‘Mood Indigo’ illuminates the historic scope of this vibrant pigment.

The exhibition features a set of tapestries from Belgium, a silk court robe from China, a vast array of kimonos from Japan, batiks and ikats from Indonesia and Africa, and ancient fragments from Peru and Egypt.

An immersive contemporary installation devoted to indigo by Rowland Ricketts will be accompanied by a soundtrack by sound artist Nobert Herber that unveils the musical nuances indigo can suggest. From the sultry darkness of midnight to the vitality of a bright sky, come let the myriad blues in their multiple forms surround you.

For more information, visit the website of the Seattle Art Museum, USA.