By Faye Morrison
I wandered down to NSCAD last evening at the behest of my daughter who wanted me to check out the latest exhibit at the Anna Leonowens Gallery. My daughter attended the Asian Studies Program at Saint Mary’s University and spent a year attending Sapporo University, Hokkaido, Japan to perfect her Japanese language abilities. As with most youth today, she moved elsewhere to find employment. As I have an interest in textiles she felt I would have an appreciation for this exhibit and describe it to her as she couldn’t attend.
The exhibit includes silk kimonos made from a fabric silk that is hand stamped on both sides and was made in family homes as a source of outside income. Only about 4 or 5 families remain who can do this type of work. This type of kimono uses a method of applying the dye directly to the warf and weft threads prior to weaving and makes use of synthetic dyes for brighter vibrant colors using a method called Meisen. The textiles were less expensive to make and durable. They could be worn for more than one generation and refashioned for more than one person.
This silk textile was made popular between 1910 and 1950 and textile artists went to Lyon, France to learn how to do the Meisen technique. Many of the designs chosen were selected from competitions of art students held throughout the various prefectures of Japan. The influence of such artists of the early twentieth century and abstract Cubism can be clearly visualized although the designs are clearly Japanese. The abstract designs are bold and colorful, just the thing to start off a new student year while the hint of fall with the last warmth of summer prevails.
This exhibit was brought to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design from the personal collection of Haruko Watanabe and organized by Naoko Furue and Nancy Price. Below is a sample of a poster of a wonderful kimono that was worn during the opening reception and I encourage you to view this exhibit which is being held from Sept 16-27, 2014 at NSCAD University, Halifax located in the Anna Leonowens Gallery, Granville Mall, Halifax, NS