In May 2011, some Japanese embroidery friends and I travelled to Edinburgh for an exhibition of embroidery by Shizuka Kusano. We had all admired her work ever since we first pawed over her book "The Fine Art of Kimono Embroidery". The exhibition was the first time that Kusano-san’s work was shown outside of Japan so it was a very rare opportunity for us to see it and to meet its charming and gracious creator.
During the exhibition, one of Kusano-san’s students was demonstrating Japanese embroidery. One of our friends, Colleen, said how pretty the design was. To our amazement, Kusano-san presented us with a copy of the design and encouraged us each to stitch it in our own way. Another exciting development that came out of that visit is that Kusano-san is returning to the UK this June. An exhibition of her work is to be held on 26th to 29th June at The Bridge House Hotel, 2 Ringwood Road, Ferndown, Dorset, BH22 9AN. When we knew that Kusano-san would be making this visit we decided to stitch the design as a group project. As Kusano-san wished, we have each done our own interpretation of the design, pushing ourselves to do something new with it. For some this has meant working with colours they would normally avoid, for other it has been an opportunity to try out new techniques.
Our tutor, Margaret, provided a selection of obi fabric in a variety of colours. I choose a deep and very regal purple. My original idea was to do the design entirely in gold work and the gold looks stunning against the purple. However, after studying pictures of Kusano-san’s work and visiting an exhibition of work by the tutors and students of Kurenia-kia, I saw many interesting techniques that I wanted to incorporate in my design – more than I would be able to include.
© Shizuka Kusano/Carol-Anne Conway
Over the next few weeks I intend to blog about what I have done so far and about my race to finish in time for my piece to be displayed in celebration of Kusano-san’s visit alongside the beautiful designs already completed by some of my friends.