Sunday, September 19, 2010

Galleries and Flea Markets

In the neighbourhood around the Takashimaya department store are some very good galleries worth visiting. They can be difficult to find, because they are not on street level and there's no signage on the street -- but they are well worth the effort.

Gallery Nishikawa represents many wonderful textile artists (including Misao Iwamura) and has a gallery space where they showcase individual artists on a regular basis. When we visited on Friday, September 24th, they were showing beautiful leather bags that were exquisitely crafted and very architectural in design. The gallery is located in the Maronie Building, 2F, 332 Shioya-cho, Kawara-machi Shijo Agaru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto. There is another gallery in the same building, on the 3rd and the 4th floor, called Gallery Maronie. A hike up the stairs is definitely rewarding!

A couple of days later we visited Gallery Gallery in the Kotobuki Building, 5F, Kawaramachi, Shijo-sagaru, Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto and saw an installation of large, handwoven transparent tapestries by Yui Inoue. It's difficult to capture these translucent weavings on my little camera, but here are some photos of the work.

Yui Inoue transparent weaving, detail

Several transparent weavings hung together in this small space

One of my favorite galleries was Gallery Kei on Teramachi street, a couple of blocks south of the Imperial Palace Park. The owner (whose name I unfortunately didn't get) was there when I visited and is very knowledgeable about old Japanese textiles. As she explained, one of her goals is to educate Japanese people about the beauty and cultural value of these old textiles. I was especially drawn to the 19th and early 20th century working class clothing made from recycled textiles by people living in poor, rural fishing and farming villages. The spirit of these garments-- worn until threadbare and patched repeatedly with bits of salvaged fabric-- reminded me so much of the quilts of Gees Bend

Beautiful patched textile from Gallery Kei

Tenjin-San Market
This enormous and very popular flea market is held once a month, on the 25th, at Kitano Tenman-gu, a lovely shrine that is at it's most beautiful during the plum blossom season in March. We spent a good 3 - 4 hours wandering through this market that sold everything under the sun.  I picked up some old kasuri patched fabric and these pieces of rusted metal which, we were told, were used as shelving in pottery kilns. I love their graphic quality and the play of positive and negative space. I'm thinking of using them for rusting fabric or for deconstructed screen printing. Or I might just mount them on my studio wall as a reminder of the lovely day we spent wandering around this fabulous market. It would be worth returning to Japan just to experience it again.

Also at the market was a vendor selling yarn -- beautiful silk , hemp, linen and other bast fibers-- and handwoven fabric. This was just what Diana was looking for to diversify the yarn stock at the Silk Weaving Studio, and we spent a lot of time poring over the yarns. It turns out that the seller -- Aoni Textiles -- has a very well established business in a large and very tidy warehouse in Kyoto which we visited the following day. We managed to enjoy the tea they served us, drooling over their wares between sips.


1 comment:

  1. Hey!!! You called this post "Galleries and Flea Markets"!!! Quality control!!! You didn't mention flea markets at all!!! We're waiting for a full report on Kitano Tenmangu!!!

    - a loyal fan... (with apologies for the overabundant exclamation marks)