"This April Somerset House will host an exhibition on the Japanese textile tradition of boro. Translated to ‘rags’ in English, boro is the collective name for items – usually clothing and bed covers – made by the poor, rural population of Japan who could not afford to buy new when need required and had to literally make ends meet by piecing and patching discarded cotton onto existing sets, forming something slightly different each time they did so. Generations of Japanese families repaired and recycled fishermen’s jackets to futon covers, handing them down to the next and weaving their own sagas and stories through the threads.
"As such boros are seen to have significant sociohistorical status by providing an insight into the modest lives of those that made them and a snapshot of the country’s impoverished past, but they can also be viewed as articles of great artistic value. Consciously or otherwise, the once humble objects can be considered works of art with their unique arrangements of shapes and beautiful hues of blues and browns, reminiscent of the paintings of Paul Klee or the combines of Robert Rauschenberg. In this context, Boro will showcase 40 historic boro pieces in a new light within Somerset House’s East Wing Galleries from a collection never before displayed and compiled over six years by antiquarians Gordon Reece and Philippe Boudin."
Gordon Reece opened a gallery in Knareborough and another in Mayfair and promoted the appreciation of non-European crafts. The galleries closed in 2007.
Philippe Boudin is the director of the Mingei Arts Gallery in Paris.
I am planning to see this exhibition and will, of course, report back. In the meantime, pop over to Susan Briscoe's blog where she has shared some of her own collection of boromono and a lot of information about these evocative textiles.