Antwerp Kimono Show

Last weekend we travelled to Antwerp to see an exhibition of kimono by the late Japanese master Itchiku Kubota. Kubota is one of my favourite artists and the chance to see some of his pieces that I only knew in reproduction made the trip a must.

Kim1

The exhibition was small with just eight kimono, six from the “Symphony of Light” series (the “Universe” set) plus two from his “Mount Fuji” series. The works were fabulous, which I knew they would be, but sadly the quality of the display was very poor with untidy hanging and lighting totally unsuitable for this type of work. The main light came from an internal paved courtyard but this caused so much reflection on the glass that you could only really see the piece directly in front of you. Fortunately we were permitted to take photographs, which is normally strictly forbidden in Kubota exhibits.

Kim11

Reflections on the glass made viewing very difficult!

The “Universe” set of kimono represents a mythical dragon within Mount Fuji breathing out flames and magma. They form one amazing continous image which was impossible to photograph but I have put together a set of individual photos to show the effect.

Kim7

The Universe set from “The Festival of Light”

Kim9

The complexity of the shibori work is amazing

Kim10

The subtle areas are among the most beautiful

Kim4

One of the Mount Fuji kimono

Kim5

The hand-stitched shibori textures are breathtaking!

Kim6

The other Mount Fuji kimono

Kim2

Kubota would spend as much as a year working on each kimono

The exhibition runs until the 19th June at MOMU – The Antwerp Fashion Museum. Antwerp itself is not a city I had ever considered visiting but proved to be a very pleasant and enjoyable destination.

Metal sculpture in Florence

A few weeks ago I posted some photos of Florentine wrought ironwork. Here is a follow-up featuring Florentine metalwork closer to the fine art end of the spectrum. This is a huge subject with a great tradition but these are just a few pictures that appealed to me.

sculpture 2

The main bronze doors of Florence Cathedral by Augusto Passaglia

The casting of relief-decorated bronze doors has been a major art form in Florence since the start of the Renaissance. In fact, many classic texts date the true start of the Italian Renaissance to the sculpting of Lorenzo Ghiberti’s doors for Florence’s Baptistery.

sculpture 1

“The Annunciation” – A panel in a side door of Florence Cathedral

Sadly, the two sets of doors that Ghiberti made for the Baptistery have now been replaced by modern copies in order to preserve the originals. The copies are superb, however, and a great testament to an enduring Florentine bronze casting tradition.

sculpture 6

One of the North doors of the Baptistery (a modern exact replica)

sculpture 3

The second set of doors by Ghiberti were christened “The Gates of Paradise” by Michelangelo

sculpture 4

Detail from “The Gates of Paradise” (a modern replica)

Cast sculpture can be found throughout Florence both in the galleries and out in public spaces. A favourite of mine is the fountains in the Piazza della Santissima Annunziata by Pietro Tacca.

sculpture 7

Detail from a mannerist fountain by Pietro Tacca

As well as skills with bronze, Florence has long been renowned as a centre for gold-smithing. In the Pitti Palace fine examples are displayed of gold working from many periods.

sculpture 10

A gold mounted drinking horn

sculpture 11

A large gold snail featuring a real seashell

Finally, though not high art, I noticed a number small metal tortoises scattered around the city, often in hard to spot places and usually carrying heavy loads on their backs.sculpture 8

sculpture 9

See also: Florentine Ironwork

 

 

Major Ikat Exhibition

A major exhibition of IKAT textiles has just opened at the Brunei Gallery, in the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. Organized by the World Crafts Council, this marvellous show is well worth a visit by anyone with an interest in traditional textiles.

Ikat is a technique where yarn is dyed with multiple colours prior to weaving so that patterns arise from aligning the yarn colours during the weaving process. Yarn is most commonly dyed using a tie-dye or similar resist technique. Because the production techniques are both painstaking and time consuming, Ikat textiles are among the most expensive of all fabrics. Variations on the Ikat technique can be found all around the world.

Ikat 1

The Brunei Gallery is a beautiful venue and deserves to be much better known. It is only a 3 minute walk from the British Museum. In addition to a program of changing exhibitions, there is a permanent collection and a beautiful Japanese roof garden.Ikat 5The show features examples from some ten countries in the Asia-Pacific region, plus items from Latin-America, the Middle East, West Africa and Europe.

Ikat 3

As well as the textile displays, on specific event days there are live demonstrations, a symposium and film screenings.

Ikat 4

The gallery is open Tuesday to Saturday, 10.30 to 17.00. Closed Sundays, Mondays and Bank holidays. Admission is free.

Ikat 2

Ikat 6

For more details, see the Brunei Gallery website

The Taunton Kimono – part 1

A couple of years ago The South West Textile Group arranged a future exhibition at the Museum of Somerset in Taunton. The long time scale and the chance to exhibit in a beautiful space made me decide to take on a major piece of work. I have long wanted to tackle making a Kimono and this seemed the perfect opportunity. The project proved to be a long and steep learning curve, but on October 9th I got to see my piece (now known simply as “The Taunton Kimono”) on display at the private view of the “Imprints” exhibition.

My Kimono on display at the entrance to the

My Kimono on display at the entrance to the “Imprints” exhibition at the Museum of Somerset

All the work in the exhibition was to be inspired by items or displays in the Museum of Somerset permanent collection, so a day trip to the Museum was the starting point for everyone. A tour around the collection begins with the fossil gallery. It was here that I found the objects upon which I wanted to base my design. One was a 55,000 year old fossil Woolly Rhinoceros skull which featured the most amazing teeth. The serpentine graphic shapes of these teeth just begged to be reused in a piece of art, and the fact that the skull had been dug up just a few hundred meters from the museum seemed to make it even more appropriate.

The 55,000 year old woolly rhinoceros skull at the Museum of Somerset

The 55,000 year old woolly rhinoceros skull at the Museum of Somerset

Design work began with sketches based on photographs taken at the museum. (In the end I almost filled a couple of sketchbooks with ideas big and small.) These led on to a large number of watercolour sketches where I began to get an idea of the colour scheme I wanted to explore.

Watercolour sketch exploring ideas for the Kimono design.

Watercolour sketch exploring ideas for the Kimono design.

Preparatory watercolour sketch

Preparatory watercolour sketch

Work on the Kimono itself started with a full-sized line drawing that was then transferred on to the silk.

The final design was drawn out full size on pattern paper

The final design was drawn out full size on pattern paper

Transferring the design to the silk using a fugitive ink pen

Transferring the design to the silk using a fugitive ink pen

I had originally planned to use exclusively Shibori techniques to decorate the fabric, but the silk I had was too lightweight and too prone to bleed along the satin fibres to be reliably dyed using these methods. I therefore resorted to conventional silk-painting techniques and used Shibori purely for texturing.

The silk was pinned to purpose made frames and the design was divided up using water-based gutta resist

The silk was pinned to purpose made frames and the design was divided up using water-based gutta resist

Using a hairdryer to selectively dry the dye allowed the creation of tonal variation

Using a hairdryer to selectively dry the dye allowed the creation of tonal variation

The two halves of the Kimono were developed together to ensure a good match

The two halves of the Kimono were developed together to ensure a good match

My husband Alex was heavily involved in the project throughout. As well as helping with both the design and execution, he also made the painting frames with rollers on each end to cope with the long fabric lengths. His other great contribution was in making a really good steamer to fix the colours. He simply fixed an aluminium tube to the top of a large saucepan, with a hollow tube suspended down the centre around which the silk was rolled.

The silk was steam fixed in a steamer made by my husband Alex

The silk was steam fixed in a steamer made by my husband Alex

After the first round of painting and steaming, the pieces were pinned together to see the effect

After the first round of painting and steaming, the pieces were pinned together to see the effect

The “Imprints” exhibition is on at the Museum of Somerset, Taunton Castle, Castle Green, Taunton, from 10th October 2015 to 2nd January 2016.
The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday 10.00am to 5.00pm

My next post will cover the remaining part of the Kimono making process.

The Taunton Kimono – part 2

New Brooches

I thought I would share a few of the pieces I’ve been working on lately. With these brooches I have focussed on creating lines that flow and echo within the shapes.
We’ve been experimenting with different lighting when photographing, but it’s sometimes a struggle to reproduce the original colours in photos. Let me know what you think!

Pastel rainbow textile brooch by Wai-Yuk KennedyAutumn textile brooch by Wai-Yuk Kennedy???????????????????????????????

‘Empress Dowager’ Textile Sculpture

In my last post, I gave a sneak preview of a piece I made for an exhibition at the Bristol Guild GalleryThe exhibition was put together by the South West Textile Group, and was entitled, ‘Suspension.’ 

I was interested in the challenge of creating a three dimensional form, and the end result was ‘Empress Dowager’ – a 3D hanging textile sculpture. I used many of my original textile techniques to create it, but had the added challenge of making sure that the sculpture was interesting from every angle.

'Suspension', textile art sculpture by Wai-Yuk Kennedy

'Suspension.' Detail.

‘Empress Dowager.’ Detail.

The design was originally inspired by Buddhist parasols and by the ceremonial parasols that I saw in The Forbidden City, Beijing, many of which were embroidered with colourful, racing dragons. The parasols are traditionally a symbol of luck, royalty and protection, whilst dragons symbolise royalty and Imperial power.

Buddhist parasol

Buddhist parasol

A ceremonial parasol in the Forbidden City

Although the Bristol exhibition is now closed, the South West Textile Group will be showing the ‘Suspension’ exhibition at The Town Mill Gallery, in Lyme Regis, from the 3rd – 30th October 2013.

You can find more of my large-scale textile work here:
Textile Sculpture: 4D Sphere
Textile Relief: Dragon

'Suspension', textile art sculpture by Wai-Yuk Kennedy

‘Empress Dowager’

Back to business!

Hello everyone!

Sorry for being a stranger – the months seem to have gotten away from me. I’m going to try to get back into good habits and update this blog more often, with help from my daughter, Isla. I’ve got lots to catch up on and share over the next few posts, including an exhibition at the Bristol Guild Gallery, visits to museums and the Eden Project, some textile experiments, and Isla’s graduation from Oxford!

To start off, here’s a sneak preview of the piece I made for the Bristol Guild Gallery exhibition, earlier this summer – stay tuned for more!

'Suspension.' Detail.

‘Suspension.’ Detail.