Saturday, 2 February 2008

Talk by Mitsuo Toyazaki

Mitsuo Toyazaki talked about his work as part of The Cloth and Culture Symposium weekend on 27 January 2008. The work he has in the current exhibition is Passage of Time, an installation of four maple leaf shapes made of buttons on a plinth . Each leaf is a different colour to represent one of the four seasons.

Professor Toyazaki is an avid collector of functional objects and has a large collection of buttons, although they are not indigenous to Japan. He has made previous installations using buttons and relies on volunteers to help him lay them out. Part of the attractions of these pieces for him is their transience and once they have been exhibited the buttons are returned to his collection.

Mitsuo Toyazaki showed us slides of his previous work and explained where the inspiration for each came from. One of his earlier works was Growth in which he dyed working gloves with indigo then spread them in rows so they looked like cabbages growing in a field. He told us he prefers to create patterns rather than images and showed us his work entitled Safety cloth, which is made up of 80,000 woven safety pins in different colours. From a distance this piece resembles a crochet blanket.

Two pieces based on the Japanese national flag were interesting. Box lunch was a clever use of traditional Japanese food, a rectangular container of rice with a cherry tomato in the centre, to resemble the Japanese flag. Polka dots was made up of numerous flags sewn together to produce a polka dot pattern. This was an effort to make the Japanese flag, which has strong military connotations into a harmless fun pattern of polka dots.

Other artworks in which Mitsuo Toyazaki has used buttons include Kara, a shirt with a pattern made of small holes formed from burns from an incense stick. His inspiration here was an Ise paper stencil, which has a very lace-like quality. Fireworks were the inspiration for Tamatane Mitzabore, which is made up of circles of buttons on the floor. A haiku was the inspiration for Sound of water another series of concentric circles of buttons. While the tea ceremony inspired Colour of tea. Made up of wine glasses half full of brown buttons. This was a play on the fact that the colours of the buttons all have cha (tea) as part of their Japanese names.

I liked the use of the incense sticks and will try making some patterns using this method of burning holes in paper and cloth. I also thought his use of safety pins was very clever especially with the double meaning they imply, they could be a good material with which to make blindfolds.

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