Tapestry of Life
textile art from asia
11 august – 30 september 2016
asia is a mosaic of cultures awash with rich traditions and crafts. The art of textile craft occupies an important position in these cultures, not only to produce fabric to cloth one’s body and also as carriers of identity and values. connecting people and maintaining important cultural and social relationships. each textile is a tapestry of life, weaved from stories, symbols and history. the textiles in this exhibition originate from different parts of asia and present us with tales unique to the heritage and society where they come from.
one of these textiles in the show is a late 19th century to early 20th century japanese boro, a unique textile that embodies the japanese cultural tradition of ‘mottainai’, which conveys a sense of regret to wastage and respect for resources. this practice stems from the shinto mythology that a spirit resides in every object. it was revived during a difficult period in the history of Japan after world war two, when poverty was widespread. the japanese boro stands out as a frankenstein from the rest of the textiles in the exhibition due to its tattered, patched and mended nature. however, this quality is also what makes it very special and sought after by many. it is reminiscent of a painting in various shades of blue hues.
in java, the art of wax resists dyeing reached its greatest accomplishment after its introduction from India in the 6th century. in the exhibition we have an exquisite contemporary creation by american artist lou zeldis, utilising the same technique that was practiced for hundreds of years. the cross-cultural exchange found in the art of wax resist dyeing or the relationship between the boro and the japanese people reveals the tangled history and colourful tapestry that different cultures contribute to textile tradition. these textiles display unique regional characteristics of the countries they were woven in and highlight the significant role that fabrics play in culture and ethnic identity.