The majority of the textiles are sourced from the collection of New York based gallerist Stephen Szczepanek who also co-curated the exhibition. His gallery, Sri Threads, is an ever changing collection of astonishingly repaired antique Japanese folk textiles.
There could be a tendency to romanticise these textiles yet, as Szczepanek explains, this art of repair did not begin as an abstract philosophy but was born of necessity: “Boro textiles were the domain of the ordinary man and represented a collective, impoverished past.
They were largely forgotten after the mid-twentieth century when Japan’s society shifted towards mass-scale modernization and urbanization. However, they are the tangible embodiment of a cultural legacy which has only recently been accorded a formal name and has received critical consideration”.
These textiles may have their origins in austerity and utilitarian design but the sophistication of the repeated repair, often by several successive generations, means each piece is completely unique and as such gives the fabric a sculptural and considered presence.
It may seem strange to see these frail pieces of Japan’s rural history within the context of a 19th century French chateaux. Yet each piece of repaired fabric, sparsely displayed throughout the empty rooms, resemble the ancient walls of the chateaux. These walls reveal years of intricate historical repair and are preserved and admired in their ‘raw’ state, just like the boro textiles that the building is playing host to.
THE ART OF REPAIR
Scarves inspired by repaired textiles
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by Samantha Allan (co-curator at The Shop Floor Project) This article is was originally published in Trend Tablet.
Mottainai and boro boro are two terms in Japanese philosophy which seem to perfectly contextualise the exhibition Boro: The Fabric of Life, which was shown in the ancient French chateaux of Domaine de Boisbuchet in 2013 and also formed the starting point for our new collection of 'repaired' scarves. Mottainai is a term which conveys a deep sense of regret concerning waste whilst the phrase boro boro celebrates the beauty in something frayed, decaying or repaired and provides the exhibition with its title.
Boro: The Fabric of Life contains fifty fragile pieces of endlessly repaired and patched futon covers, kimonos, work garments, and other household textiles which were created by Japanese farmers between 1850 and 1950 using leftover, indigo dyed cotton.
THE ART OF REPAIR
Hand-spun and hand-woven scarves inspired by patterns found in textiles which have been artfully repaired, patched and re- stitched many times. The new versions for winter are woven in fine, naturally dyed wool and feature the signature block ‘repairs’ and ‘stitches’ in contrasting colours.
Expertly woven by a studio of skilled female artisans in the Khadi tradition.