Wednesday, June 18, 2008

WWS Coverage in MONDOmagazine

Here's an online article I found about the World Washi Summit that featured little write-ups of both events I participated in. The forth-mentioned origami shoes at TSA and crocheted washi scarf at the OCC are both mine. And congrats to my friend Yoko for getting a really nice mention in the piece...

Craftflash: Awash in Washi

World Washi Summit
June 7-15, 2008
35 locations in and around Toronto

By Amy Borkwood

How many ways can you possibly manipulate Washi — through folding, gluing, dyeing, painting, cutting, printing, sewing, etc. — in order to create something absolutely new? This is what the World Washi Summit seemed to be asking of its artists throughout this one-week exhibition of Washi (the Japanese word for traditional papers, made by hand for over 1400 years, from renewable, indigenous plants). Galleries (and restaurants, retail stores, and more) all across the city dedicated their spaces to the exploration of this traditional paper, featuring new and experienced artists, all working within the medium of Washi.

The hand-making and traditional uses of Washi — and this is applicable to fine craft and handmade goods in general — have drastically reduced with the use of machines in traditionally handmade goods and materials. The purpose of the summit is to draw attention to the traditional roles of Washi, through showcasing the creative possibilities of this medium.

The potentials of Washi seem limitless: at the Toronto School of Art exhibition, there was an exact replica of a newspaper, intricately hand-lettered and hand-drawn, next to an installation of origami shoes, spread along the entire gallery floor, which ended at a podium full of shakeable folded boxes (seeds and bells sounding inside). My favourite piece at this gallery was Yoko Nomura’s “Yozakura (Cherry Blossom in the Night),” which was really a study of the Washi itself: loosely layered sheets of Washi, made with Washi-petals inside the paper as well as on the floor directly in front of the piece, as if the petals had been falling slowly from within the paper over the course of the exhibition.

My boyfriend and I subwayed and trammed down to Propeller gallery, just to find that the show didn’t officially open until the next day — only to be let in for an early showing by a (wonderful) woman working in the gallery. Though the gallery wasn’t completely ready to be viewed — there were papers and rulers along the floor, notes on the walls about the placement of each piece — the work that we saw was stunning. One piece by Teri Donovan stood out: black-ink prints of houses on off-white Washi, with hand-embroidered root systems trailing from each house.

After Propeller we headed to the Ontario Craft Council gallery, where 13 artists had been working over the June 7/8 weekend to create gorgeous, innovative Washi works. Within two days, the artists collaborated or worked individually to craft mobiles, “paper cups” (glass cups overflowing with torn Washi), jewellery (a necklace made of large, egg-like sculptured Washi), multiple collages, and even a scarf knit from Washi and shredded office paper. The OCC exhibition, all crafted within the two-day deadline, is now being auctioned off to the public. Go to the OCC show if only to see the knit-paper scarf. Honestly, how is that possible?


Original article can be found here.

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