Friday, 16 November 2007

Hoitsu scroll - inspiring work at the world exhibition

The 2007 world exhibition is due to finish this Sunday (18th November) and I would recommend anyone who has an interest in embroidery or Japanese art to visit, it is more that worth it. There are many wonderful pieces on display but I would like to talk here about the Hoitsu scroll which has been adapted and stitched by professionals at Kurenai-kai in Japan. The original scroll (housed at the Tokyo National Museum) was painted by Sakai Hoitsu a Rimpa artist from the Edo period and consists of two seven metre sections each of which uses seasonal flowers, plants, birds, and insects to represent two of the four seasons. Because of the difficulty in framing up a seven meter piece of silk for stitching the staff of Kurenai-kai decided to split the design and stitch four pieces each covering one season. At the exhibition the complete work is displayed in one of the exhibition spaces in the Kaetsu Centre, not hung as a scroll, but rolled out on long tables and as you walk along the plants change with the season. It is not simply that one scroll has summer or spring plants in no particular order, in fact the plants and flowers move into one another as in a real garden, early spring plants move into mid and late spring then into early summer and so into the rest of the year. For myself it was wonderful to see the piece in person, I have just started stitching a section extracted from the summer scroll and although I have a colour picture it was amazing to see the original close enough to make out the individual stitches. You can follow my progress either in the gallery or in my personal blog. I’m unable to post any pictures, but for those of you who might like more information there are two short articles in Nuido, the magazine produced by JEC, which go into the background and production of the piece in more detail. Contact JEC and ask for the issues for Fall 2005 and Winter 2006, back issues cost about $5. Also available is a CD of the 2007 exhibition which has images of the scroll and many other pieces. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank some of the staff involved in producing this wonderful piece; Yoshihiro Yamashita san, Chief Professional of the Kurenai-kai workshop (if you visit the exhibition you will be able to meet Yamashita san in person); Sumie Yamashita san, Chief of the Design Department; Kiyoko Uematsu san, Professional stitcher; and of course all the other dedicated staff at both Kurenai-kai and JEC who made production of this piece possible. Thanks must also go to all those who helps raise the funds to have the scroll professionally mounted.

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