In a Beginning Clothes –– the South Pacific Islands
November 30, 2017 to March 17, 2018
When the LIXIL Gallery in Kyobashi, Tokyo, invited me to hold a sister exhibition to their exhibition, Early Cloth: Tapa and Felt, I agreed without any hesitation. The astonishment and admiration I felt when I first saw a cloth form the South Pacific in The Japan Folk Craft Museum in 1984 has remained vivid in my memory.
The LIXIL Gallery’s exhibit will feature the collection of Shigeki Fukumoto, a dyeing artist who has visited the South Pacific Islands more than ten times. He has researched and collected cloths that are produced using the techniques established before weaving was introduced. Half of Iwatate’s exhibit will come from Fukumoto’s collection.
Various articles report that the production of pandanus cloth in the South Pacific Islands is a festive and picnic-like event that an entire community participates in either through cooking, supervising, or helping in various tasks. The cloth, which looks like a large rush mat, is woven and dyed in madder red with ancestral motifs using stencils made of banana leaves. The completed cloth (that is called “seh seh?”) would be used as a dowry or for a ritual. Although a gift of pandanus cloth would be stacked in a hut where it would collect soot and would have no practical use, it would remind viewers of the fundamental joy of craft in each step of making the cloth.