On Monday November 16th, Kyoko Ibe presented her lecture, slideshow, and art at the UCLA faculty center. She was very happy with the event, and since I was able to go, the following is a summary I have made.
Kyoko Ibe has worked with paper fiber media for over 30 years and has been touring many different countries, now working on projects under sponsorship of Japan’s Agency of Cultural Affairs. For her exhibitions here in the states, Kyoko created pieces using over 100 year old Gampi papers for the sheet formation and 200 year old handwritten manuscripts and documents for the Gampi base. She used all natural Sumi, calligraphy black-ink, and mica particles. In the past, washi was very precious and not to be wasted. Not only were both sides to be used, but the whole sheet would be recycled as layering materials in constructing traditional sliding doors (fusuma) and folding screens. As an export, used washi with woodblock prints would be packed as wrapping paper for Japanese ceramics and art. Artists and connoisseurs in the 19th century Europe took notice of it, many collecting and taking inspiration from the washi. The largest collection of washi is in the German National Library in Leipzig, donated by Frantz Von Batz. Kyoko traveled to this national library in the nineties to view a particular washi collection documented by a British scholar, and found to her surprise that it had been kept hidden and forgotten in the corner all this time. She began research with Germany, discovering the world’s largest collection. Working with such matured washi was an experience that would become a turning point for Kyoko’s work.
An interesting part of washi’s history was that people in the past favored the recycled washi over newly made washi, valuing the traces of ink that lingered and the harmony it created. With this knowledge, Kyoko’s work was born. Using old washi documents and gampi, Kyoko invented methods to create her washi art pieces in such a vibrant and active way, different from traditional washi papermaking. At the end of the presentation, we were able to view her art pieces, and some of the 100/200 year old materials used (as shown to the left).
During her visit here, Kyoko brought us her designed handmade washi jewelry and accessories available in Japan. You can come see and purchase them in our store.
Related books available for purchase:
Washi in the 19th Century (cataloging the washi collection from Leipzig)