exhibition details - location, times  all artists

meaning  ' ..puzzling, strange, mysterious'
meaning  '..coloured yarns'

Knitting & Stitching Show

The 2001 Knitting & Stitching Show

What would happen if you took a small group of ordinary Japanese women and housewives with common enthusiasm for knitting, and tried to get them to look at their hobby from the point of view of professionals or artists? This was the aim of the series of workshops in Japan led by Yoshimi Kihara, a knitting designer who lives in London. The workshops were held once a year, and gradually evolved to present her students with new and wider challenges, thinking not just about yarns and colour but about how they present themselves to the outside world and what part their creativity and knitting plays in their lives. The results can be seen in their exhibition as part of the 2001 'Knitting and Stitching' show. 

'Fushiginoiroito' may be a difficult word for the English tongue to pronounce, but we will have little difficulty in recognising the struggle and effort the women have made to along their route to this exhibition. Yoshimi Kihara has tried at all times to emphasise that their creative development was a matter of each one accepting individual responsibility for this process. The eighteen 'Fushiginoiroito' members are not a collection of star Japanese designers, but of ordinary enthusiasts - each trying to push and tug at the limits of their individual skills and abilities. 

Starting from a slide lecture in 1990, the workshops eventually formed into two groups - one in Tokyo and one in Kyoto, Japan's ancient former capital. For the past six years each workshop has culminated in exhibitions mounted in established galleries in Kyoto and Tokyo. They also 'exchange' each other's exhibitions - sending detailed hanging instructions along with their work to their partner workshops. Each of the last four exhibitions have been organised by the members themselves. This has meant communicating amongst themselves throughout the year, booking the galleries, informing the press, keeping accounts, making mailshots, posters and catalogues and all the other associated tasks of an exhibition. The workshops have provided a period of intense scrutiny of the work and their underlying ideas. Plain speaking is both given and expected, and for many Japanese this directness is uncomfortable and unfamiliar. 

The exhibitions of the "Fushiginoiroito" members aren't meant to be end in themselves, but an essential part of a process of extending their skills. Yoshimi Kihara writes: "It was my belief that we should show our selves to the public in our exhibitions without covering up all the struggle involved - for better or worse. Sometimes time and patience would run out before we had finished, but nevertheless we would carry on with the exhibition, even if it was half-finished." 

In 1998 many of the current members visited London to see the 'New Designer Show', the collected degree shows of British and Irish Art Colleges. The energy and commitment of the student's work came as a shock and a pleasure. Their delight at having the opportunity to exhibit at the Knitting & Stitching Show owes something to this experience. 

The members of 'Fushiginoiroito' (puzzling, strange, mysterious…coloured yarns ) look forward to their meeting with the public here, and many of them will be present during the show. For many of them this may well be the high point of their development, but for a few we hope this will become the moment when they step beyond the group to achieve a wider recognition for the high quality of their work. 



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