I find it hard to have enough making/creative time so I am reluctant to spend even more hours at the computer to write blogs about my creative life. However, Braids 2019 in Iga, Japan, was a truly amazing conference and I must share some of this with you.
It seemed to dominate the whole year with preparation of my keynote lecture, preparing my workshop, making a collection of pieces to exhibit, and writing the contributions to the Proceedings “Advances in Kumihimo and Fiber Arts”. Major decisions also had to be made about flights, the length of time in Japan, what else I could see during my stay. And, of course, how best to fund t! I had really enjoyed the first International Kumihimo Conference in Kyoto in 2007, and exhibited in Tokyo in 2014 but this was likely to be my last journey to Japan, so I wanted to make the most of it.
Shinsaku and Makiko Tada are so incredibly well organised, experienced, thoughtful, efficient convenors and they excelled themselves in the whole venture. The choice of Iga, The Kumihimo City, with such wonderful artisans and huge heritage, was terrific, even if it was not quite so easy to reach. They all worked together to make everything possible!
My focus here is on the exhibition. This was housed in a beautiful traditional heritage building, Sukodo, that had originally been a school for children of the Samurai. It had tatami and screens with views to the trees and gardens outside. Each exhibitor had their own display board on which to arrange their exhibits. These were grouped onto low cubes, giving a real sense of space and calm in each gallery. We were all totally bowled over by the extent, scale, variety, imagination and skills before us in a number of rooms. Each looked so special displayed like this. It was all lit well, in this magnificent peaceful venue. As a tutor and keynote lecturer I had the area of 4 boards, and special arrangements had been made to be able to suspend my tall Rain Chains from the ceiling. The whole exhibition was open all week during the conference, and I spent a large part of the free ‘visits day’ at the exhibition in order to be able to spend time looking carefully at this incredible work from around the world. It is so good to have the beautiful exhibition book, “World Kumihimo and Fiber Arts,” and my photographs to relive this time.
This was the most stupendous world class exhibition that attracted a great many visitors from Iga, and the media.
Many thanks to Shinsaku Tada for negotiating a way to hang the tall exhibits in this heritage building, and to all the team who prepared the galleries, erected the display cubes, covered them with black fabric, the boards and artist’s names. Very warm thanks to my friends Diane Watanabe, Debbie Richardson and Bob Gallivan for their help in getting my exhibits up and ready that Sunday evening, and for help in dismantling them too after the workshops on Friday. The week went so fast, a whirlwind – so thrilling – a real contrast to the previous week with the extremely powerful and frightening Typhoon Hagibis immediately beforehand.
Every day of my month in Japan had ‘jaw-dropping’ moments, in Tokyo, Iga and Kyoto and I relished them all. Being part of this wonderful exhibition was certainly one of them.