Thursday, May 17, 2018

Itchiku Kubuta : Symphony of Light

chou / the first blush of winter (detail) by Itchiku Kubuta 
I went to see the Itchiku Kubota exhibition at the textile museum last weekend, not prepared for the awe I was to experience.
Symphony of Light: Seasons by Itchiku Kubuta
Ryou/Certitude 1986,  Kuo / Change 1986 and Hin / Nostalgia 1987
tie-dyeing, ink painting, embroidery on silk crepe
Itchiku Kubuta (1917 - 2003) apprenticed with a dyer who specialised in hand painting and resist dyeing when he was 14 years old and established his own studio 5 years later (age 19).  The following year, while visiting a museum, he saw a fragment of Tsujigahana dyed kimono silk from the Maromachi period (16th century) that inspired him for the rest of his life.
Symphony of Light: Seasons
Hou / Late autumn melencholy 1987,  Kou / Twixt autumn and winter 1989, Ei / Unexpected Snow 1989
 and Sei / blue Trace of hope in sudden snow  1989,
tie dyeing, ink painting, embroidery on silk crepe
"it carried a quality that was plaintive and mysterious.  I continued to look at that small piece of fabric, as if placed under a spell, for over three hours"  Itchiku Kubata

He devoted himself to reviving this ancient dyeing method, and eventually succeeded in 1981.   
Symphony of Light by itchiku Kubuta
Chou / The  First Blush of Winter 1986 and Kan / Never Ending Snowfall
tie-dyeing, ink painting, embroidery on silk crepe
He wanted to create panoramic visions of the subtle but swift passage of time and nature through the seasons and decided to create 80 kimonos that would connect to each other, sleeve to sleeve as a continuous canvas.

He was 63 years old when he began.

Itchiku Kubuta completed twenty-nine kimono for autumn and winter and five for the universe before he died at 86.  An additional two for the universe were created by his assistants posthumously.
Symphony of Light: The Universe  by Itchiku Kubuta 
It's his vision that I find awesome and humbling.
He started his larger than life project with no hesitation about his own if he truly felt that he had all the time in the world. 

His canvas references the human form in the kimono shapes, connecting to each other, arm to arm.

Each is made one at a time over a lengthy period of time....going through multiple laborious steps.

It is grand.  They are sublime.

There is a museum in Japan devoted to this man.

The website shows the Symphony of Light kimonos in a continuous line.  click here.
Mount Fuji Against Golden Layers of Clouds  2000 by Itchiku Kubuta
tie-dyeing, ink painting, embroidery on silk crepe
Kubota also created individual kimono.
Three of his Mount Fuji kimonos were on display.
detail of Ohn by Itchiku Kubuta
Frank Stella said:
"I don't like to say I have given my life to art.
 I prefer to say that art has given me my life"

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Love Yourself

 you don't have to try so hard
 you just have to be yourself
that's enough
you're enough

(Scott Stabile)

A love meditation.   Showing at the Perivale gallery on Manitoulin Island this season
(opens May 20)
Click here  to see some of the others

Tuesday, May 08, 2018


hygge - like a hug
hygge - watching netflix in the evening with family and quilting

Thursday, May 03, 2018

my maia quilt

Recently, I've been putting my stitching time into the baby quilt.
I've been using red thread to outline the applique shapes and also to quilt in a dense pebble grid.

The texture of this piece is the most important thing.
Those applique shapes are velvet.. the grey and tan shapes dyed with plants.
It's an easy project to work on when I am traveling - not too big.
6 months so far of work on this piece
(the baby is 15 months and walking)

We visited our Toronto babies over the weekend.
Finally the ice is melting, and I photographed it from the car window
when we drove north and home.
The ice patterns remind me of the applique shapes
in my maia quilt,
and the texture of the stitching
reminds me of nature's way with small repeated marks.
Big sister liked the velvet dots on the quilt
and sang to them as she touched them one by one.

'watch the water glitter with excitement.
when we cut below the silver skin of the surface
the center retains its fluidity'

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Barbara Klunder

Trojan Horse (detail) by Barbara Klunder 2018  linen with cotton and silk thread 
The text and images in this post are by Barbara Klunder about Gwendolyn MacEwen, Toronto poet (1941 - 1987)
Trojan Horse (detail) by Barbara Klunder 2018  linen with cotton and silk thread 
Gwendolyn MacEwen grew up near the junction area of the city and then lived on the Toronto Islands during the early 60's.  She and Margaret Atwood were close friends during that time. 

The Trojan Horse was the name of a coffeehouse that she and her second husband, Greek musician Niko Tsingos, opened for a few years on the Danforth in 1972.
Trojan Horse 2018 by Barbara Klunder   linen with cotton and silk thread  47 x 67.5 inches
Her poetry is full of longing

for Egypt,
for deep love
Trojan Horse (detail) 2018  by Barbara Klunder  linen with cotton and silk threads
for understanding,
and I wanted to make something for her.
Death is a Snake (detail) 2018 by Barbara Klunder
I used many images that were built inside her poems
as she wrote to explain her desires

her dreams,
her hopes

and her betrayals.
Death is a Snake 2018 by Barbara Klunder    linen with cotton and silk thread  59 x 34.5 inches
She would symbolize her love in many ways.

As lions,
Death is a Snake (detail) by Barbara Klunder
as storms,
as tigers,
as birds,
as magic.
Death is a Snake (detail) 2018 by Barbara Klunder  linen with cotton and silk threads
Everything that is in my embroideries
is based on her poems
Cape for Gwendolyn 2018 by Barbara Klunder hand embroidered velvet  
The exhibition Barbara Klunder: Tattoos for Gwendolyn MacEwen remains on view at the David Kaye Gallery until April 29, 2018
cape for Gwendolyn (detail) 2018 by Barbara Klunder

the red bird you wait for

you are waiting for someone to confirm it
you are waiting for someone to say it plain
now we are here and because we are short of time
I will say, I might even speak its name

it is moving above me, it is burning my heart red
I have felt it crash through my flesh
I have spoken to it in a foreign tongue
I have stroked its neck in the night like a wish

its name is the name you have buried in your blood
its shape is a gorgeous cast off velvet cape
its eyes are the eyes of your most forbidden lover
and its claws, I tell you its claws are gloved in fire

you are waiting to hear its name spoken
you have asked me a thousand times to speak it
you who have hidden it, cast it off, killed it
loved it to death and sung your songs over it

the red bird you wait for falls with giant wings
a velvet cape whose royal colour calls us kings
is the form it takes as, uninvited, it descends
it is the power and the glory forever, amen

Gwendolyn MacEwen  

Wednesday, April 25, 2018


I drove south on Monday
an early morning departure
early spring earth and air
to take part in the Ontario SAQA retreat.
(Studio Art Quilt Association)
Twenty five women are here
We brought our own projects to work on
I brought the 100 year old irish fine linen tablecloth
handed down through Ned's side,
hand embroidered long ago with clover and ribbons.
I am considering adding some red thread love marks, but am not sure how
or if.
We were asked to bring a show and tell item
and I brought earth and air - one of the pieces I made
last year for my exhibition at David Kaye gallery
I loved seeing it on the narrow bed.
I came because I want to connect with others
yet also have some time alone
Time to feel

Saturday, April 21, 2018

growing is what life is for

  A tree in the forest doesn't keep looking around at the other trees
wondering if its right to be putting down roots so deep
instead of using its energy for making acorns

it just grows
that is its job, to grow
only people drive themselve crazy asking
'what's this for?"
Am I doing all right?
am I doing better than someone else?
Is it all right to be doing this?
I copied this out and taped it inside my kitchen cupbaord ...
the one I keep the salt in, beside the stove
Learning my craft and then practicing it for no other reason than for itself
is one of the first steps I took in my life towards learning that

growing is what life is for
hand made paper by moi
type written text
text about taping the text to my kitchen cupboard where the salt is by moi
all the text about a tree in the forest, growing, is for by Beth Gutcheon  an early influence.
I'm getting ready for the Perivale gallery's 2018 season..
I will be showing stitched pieces mounted on linen-covered board, framed. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

the private side

I pinned the daily practice wall pieces up on the design wall.
These are daily collages that I stitched on every day between January 1 and April 7 2018
In the first one, I tried to make collages about observations and intuitions.  (Super Moon an example)
In the second one, I used abandoned work, attempting to give new life to some cyanotypes.
In the third one, I just recorded the passage of time and the containment of love.
Then I flipped them back to front...and wow.

They stir my emotions more.
I wonder why.
the reverse of these pieces are simpler than the front
minimal colour
naked maybe, yet marked with those black dotted lines
they are sensuous
there's a serenity to them
maybe they are more spiritual
more connected to something ineffable
 the materials are wool felt and wool thread
they remind me of the sweet grass baskets stitched with black thread that I collect here on Manitoulin
made by the indiginous crafts women
this scented grass remains so sweet even when it drys from green to a golden colour.
I began collecting these small and simple lidded baskets when we moved here 25 years ago
this one holds some pieces of mica, gifts from nature
the three wall pieces also remind me of mbuti bark cloth from the congo in africa
click here for more examples of bark cloth
To make the daily practices, I stitched arrangements of plant dyed velevt to the felt
always designing from the front of the piece.

yet I prefer the back sides.

The inner side.
the inner world.

The front is too distracting and noisy.

we've been thinking about being alive for thousands of years 
Jessica Stockholder