Monday, May 12, 2008

World Washi Summit

I'll be participating in at least one of the scheduled events of the first ever World Washi Summit. Galleries across Toronto and vicinity will be showcasing the work of artists working with Japanese paper as a way of honouring and celebrating washi and it's makers. Galleries such as Edward Day, Loop, Lonsdale Gallery, *new* gallery and several others, and numerous artists will be participating in the festivities. Keep your eyes peeled for printed schedules in associated galleries and stores, or check out the official WWS website (at the bottom of this entry) for all the details...

World Washi Summit
Art comes alive on Japanese paper

June 7-15, 2008
Toronto & Vicinity

What is washi? Washi is the Japanese word that refers to the traditional papers, made by hand from indigenous renewable plant fibres, which have been continuously produced and refined in Japan for 1400 years. With modernization, the future of this craft is endangered.

Why the Summit? For centuries, washi has been indispensable to daily life in Japan and each of the hundreds of types and sizes of Japanese paper has had a very specific use. Pure white paper for sliding shoji doors, persimmon-dyed paper as floor mats, lustrous gampi for court calligraphy: the special qualities of washi have been continuously employed to make life both more convenient and more aesthetically pleasing for the citizens of Japan.

Over time, speeded up during the 20th century, most of the many traditional uses of washi have lost their relevance and the papermaking industry has been decimated. At the turn of the 19th century there were some 80,000 families making paper by hand. Today there are roughly 320 individuals who carry on the tradition.

Though the domestic use of many types of washi has been drastically reduced, the discovery of the papers and their potential by creative people around the world has given new hope for the continuance of the craft. This has inspired whole new genres of art. Because of its special qualities - great wet and dry strength, translucence, malleability and absorbency, washi is experiencing rebirth in the hands of open-minded artists everywhere who are interested in “new” materials that expand their creative expression.

Goals of the Summit

  • to draw attention to the vast creative potential of washi
  • to underline its practicality and sustainability – for 1400 years - in a vulnerable world
  • to encourage the perseverant papermakers in rural Japan, to show them how artists worldwide are inspired by their paper
  • to honour artists from around the world who are discovering and using its unique characteristics in excepti


The World Washi Summit will be an international gathering of Japanese papermakers who make washi, those who distribute it, artists who produce art with it, curators who exhibit it and the art-buying public who are eager to learn more about it. Scheduled for June 7-15 2008 in Toronto, Canada, Summit events will honour quality craftsmanship, sustainability and artists’ creativity in Toronto and around the world.

For more specific information, please visit the official World Washi Summit website:

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