England

Textiles exhibition staged in London and Japan

Woven stainless steel by Kyoko Kumai
Image caption This autumn's exhibition will feature miniature works by more than 50 artists working in textiles in London and Japan

A woman who has collaborated with textile artists in Japan for 15 years is to curate an exhibition that will travel from London to Japan.

Fifty-one artists from both countries have worked together since 1996 in a project run by Professor Lesley Millar at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA).

She is curating the event and has set up a research centre in Surrey dedicated to the subject.

Earlier this year, she received an MBE for her work.

Paper walls

The 63-year-old, who is a textile artist herself, said the first time she saw textiles in Japan it "blew her away".

Image caption Not all of the artists will be at the exhibition because of disruption after this year's tsunami

She said western artists were interested in using textiles for making political statements such as wearing fur, feminism, and oppression but Japanese practitioners were interested in the materials themselves.

Ms Millar said: "For us, textile art has come from tapestries - they always tell a story.

"But Japan never had a tradition of hanging textiles on walls because their walls are made of paper, so it's far more sculptural and doesn't have an underlying narrative."

Many of the artists who have taken part in the 15-year exchange will be at the London exhibition, called Bitesize, but not all can attend because of continuing disruption caused by the massive earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March.

Woven stainless steel

The exhibits in Bitesize are all works of art, but made by people who have trained in textiles and applied their textiles knowledge to other materials.

Image caption Little Cairn was made a trained tapestry weaver and is joined all the way through by a thread

One of the works is of woven stainless steel, for instance.

Another, called Little Cairn, has been created by artist Clyde Olliver who first trained as a tapestry weaver. Little Cairn is a layer of stones that are joined all the way through by a thread.

Ms Millar will stage the display of miniature works in London at the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation this year and will take the exhibition to Kyoto in February.

She said it was the first, and probably only time, that work from all of the artists in the project would be shown together.

The exhibition consists of miniatures partly because the Japanese specialise in miniaturisation, but also because it makes the exhibition easier to move between countries.

She added: "The idea of miniature works suggests something very precious and intimate - an exchange almost, of a gift."

After Bitesize, Ms Millar's passion for Anglo-Japanese textiles is set to grow.

From this October, another exhibition she has curated will be shown in The Gas Hall at Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery in an exhibition looking at lace and architecture.

For Lost in Lace, she has brought 20 artists together, and one of the exhibits, called Inverted Crystal Cathedral is made from 1,000 kg of crystal, of which 600 strands have been donated by the jewellers Swarovski.

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