In his latest exhibition, artist and Tsutsugaki Yuzen master Shumei Kobayashi combines the classical Japanese hand dyeing technique Tsutsugaki Yuzen, with the delicate furoshiki wrapping cloth.
Image: Tsutsugaki Yuzen on furoshiki wrapping cloth from Furoshiki: Reviving a Dyeing Art, 2007
Living and working in Kanazawa, the birthplace of Tsutsugaki Yuzen, Shumei is among one of the few Tsutsugaki Yuzen practitioners left in Japan and continues to work hard at sustaining the legacy of this dyeing craft. Tsutsugaki Yuzen is a classical hand dyeing technique, which evolved approximately 400-years ago, and is characterised by its complicated process. Similar to batik, the artist will make an outline of the design onto fabric using a resist paste. The resist paste – a steamed mixture of glutinous rice powder, rice bran, lime, water and salt – is applied to the fabric using a finely pointed funnel-like utensil. After the outline is drawn onto the fabric, the artist will use a selection of natural pigments to add colour and bring the image to life.
The furoshiki also dates back around 400 years, and its origins are found in the Japanese practice of public bathing. The cloth, which ranges from half a metre to a metre squared in size, was used both as a pouch to carry one’s belongings in to and from the bathhouse, and as a type of square “territory marker” by the owner while in a bath. This explains its name – “furo” meaning “bath” and “shiki” meaning “to spread” or “to lay out”. Made of silk crepe or cotton, the furoshiki is not only a practical item but also an ornamental one. Over time its function has become more wide and varied with it being increasingly used for decorative purposes, and in more recent times, as a fashion item, such as a shawl or stole.
Image: Tsutsugaki Yuzen by Shumei Kobayashi, noren (doorway hangings), June 2005
Exhibition: Mon – Fri & Sat 19 & 26 May, 11am – 4pm. Demonstration: Tue 15 May, 11am – 12pm & 1pm – 3pm, Sat 26 May, 1pm – 3pm
On the 18th and 23rd of May Shumei will hold two workshops where participants can learn about the many ways to fold and use the furoshiki. Shumei will also be demonstrating the Tsutsugaki Yuzen technique on the 15th and 26th of May.
Where: Japan Foundation Gallery, Level 1 Chifley Plaza, 2 Chifley Square, Sydney