Friday, October 24, 2014

Review - My Forest is a Garden

On October 31, Rutsuko Sakata presented her lecture "My Forest is a Garden." She introduced the audience to the small northern village of Fiskars, famed for it scissors, where she spends a little more that half of each year.

Rutsuko then proceeded to talk about the inspiration for her very graphic work before moving on to explain how she works. The audience witnessed an in-depth survey of her work including a short film featuring her clothing and textiles in a dance performance.

We are happy to share this film as it has been posted to youtube and is available here:

Below is a still from the film. Rutsuko manages to combine a very strong graphic sensibility with an innovative textile technique. 

Virta - Stream - link to youtube movie.

Next up - October 25 "The Orissa File" with Charllotte Kwon.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Review - African Blues: My Life in Indigo

Gasali Adeyemo speaking at the Maiwa Textile Symposium

On October 21, Gasali Adeyemo delivered his lecture "African Blues: My Life in Indigo" to a full house in the Net Loft. Gasali last delivered a lecture to the symposium audience in 2007 and it was a pleasure to reconnect with him.

Here is Tim McLaughlin's introduction to the evening ...

Tonight it is my pleasure to introduce Gasali Adeyemo. Gasali is an artisan from the Yoruba culture of Nigeria. He specializes in the traditional techniques of patterning cloth and dyeing it with African indigo. 
Gasali is a man who is full of stories. He is so full of stories, in fact, that I hesitate to tell you too much about him ahead of time for fear that I might give one of his tales away. But I think there is one that I can mention. One that emphasizes who he is and the courage of the transformation that he has made without giving too much away. 
Gasali grew up in Nigeria. He is from family of nine – all living in a small house, sleeping on the concrete floor. When he was preparing to leave Africa for the first time, he was in the airport in Nigeria. A man struck up a conversation and asked him where he was going. He replied that he was flying to the United States. The man was impressed. 
How is it that you can go there? The man  asked, What will you do there? 
I will teach indigo. Gasali replied. 
The man was incredulous. Why would someone invite a man all the way from Africa only to teach indigo? Indigo grew everywhere. Everyone knew you could dye with it. Why even bother with something so common? 
How can you afford your ticket? The man asked. 
Actually … they are paying for my ticket. Gasali replied. 
The man could not believe it. The world was a very strange place indeed. He walked away shaking his head. 
Now, what I want to emphasize with this story are three things: risk, love, and vision. 
When Gasali decided to follow in the path of his mother – who is also an indigo dyer, he took a huge risk. He took this risk because he loved indigo and he especially loved what it did to cloth. He still loves that, as those of you who are fortunate enough to be in his workshop will discover. But there was no way to know if his love of indigo was self indulgent or far-sighted. 
Today, we say that Gasali Adeyemo is a man of great vision. He lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is a respected artisan. He flies all over the world talking and teaching about indigo. It is easy for you – some other artisans might say – you are a successful man and everyone wants you to speak and teach … 
But when Gasali was a young man, indigo was as common as the weeds by the side of the road – in fact many of the weeds by the side of the road were indigo plants. What was in between that young man and the many you are going to listen to tonight were many many, years of hard work and an unbelievable dedication. 
Risk. Love.  And vision. 
I often say that this audience is filled with makers. Making has the power to transform your life—sometimes in small ways and sometimes on a grand scale. I know of no other individual who’s life has been so radically changed through the potential of making. How? How has making transformed his life in such a profound way? 
To answer that question I turn over the floor to the man himself ... Gasali Adeyemo.
Tim McLaughlin introducing Gasali Adeyemo.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Review - Layers of Life

Kyoko Ueda contemplates a question on the origin of her work after her lecture "Layers of Life."

In her introduction, Kyoko explained that she turned 60 this year.

"In Japan, 60 is the age people celebrate as a huge landmark year and receive presents. People often wear something red or choose something red for the occasion.

"60 years is considered to be the unit of one big cycle of life. So it is the time to go back to when you were born, and life begins newly again. Red at this time represents the beginning and is a happy colour ...

Kyoko took the audience through her unique artistic practice which involves the use of silk gauze layered many times. The resulting objects have great depth and intensity, but also a strange lightness that makes them unlike anything else. Kyoko also talked about her inspiration and how she moves ideas from installation sized pieces to wearable items such as shawls and scarves.

The lecture was translated by Yuki Blackwell who will also be assisting in Kyoko's workshops.

Yuki and Kyoko during the Q and A after the lecture.

Kyoko's work goes on exhibition tonight (Friday October 17th) at the Silk Weaving Studio on Granville Island in a two-person show titled "Sound of Nature." Kyoko is exhibing with Noriko Narahira.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Review - Serene Sensibility

October 14th was a considered investigation of light, shadow, nature, and the interior world of an artist as Noriko Harahira took the audience on tour of her work and creative process.

Every few years Noriko develops a new approach, and through investigating her relationship with nature, create a new body of work for a solo show. The audience were invited to see the progression of a life dedicated to texture, pattern, and Noriko's unique relationship with textiles. She has worked on room filling installations. Some of them created to occupy the rooms of a traditional Japanese house. Noriko has also worked in miniature, deploying similar techniques to make works that fit into the hand.

Noriko also introduced the Shake Hand project. Designed to aid the residents of the Tohoku Area of Japan who are still recovering from the 2011 Tsunami, the project involves selling "blank" cloth salmon to artisans who embellish them. The completed fish are exhibited in a gallery and then sold to raise money for rebuilding the lives of Tohoku residents. "Shake" means salmon in Japanese - and so the title of the project plays off the handmade nature of the embellished fish and the ability of people across the world to come together to "shake hands" to help each other.

Full information in Japanese can be found on the facebook page at:

Here is an english description of the project:

Together Noriko Narahira and Kyoko Ueda will have an exhibition titled "Sound of Nature" at the Silk Weaving Studio on Granville Island. The opening reception is this Friday October 17th from 6-8pm. We look forward to seeing you there.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Dog Recovered - Tzou Rescue

The St. Bernard, "Tzou" has been recovered after the truck he was in was stolen on Thursday night. Thanks to everyone who pitched in to help. We had staff postering the city and an entire team of volunteers sweeping the area where the truck was found abandoned.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, Tzou was found on the East side of Vancouver. We are very grateful to everyone who spread the news on social media. CBC, CTV, and Global News also helped out and ran stories through their networks.

Everyone is relieved to be reunited. And we are very pleased that this story has a happy ending.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Update: Truck Found - Dog Still Missing

Thanks to the Maiwa community for your support. Someone found the truck early in the morning. The St. Bernard, Tzou, is still missing.

The truck was found in the Kits area, (13th and Pine) roughly between Granville and Burrrard Streets. We are hopeful that someone will spot the dog in this area.

Once again, thanks to everyone for helping.

Call or email Maiwa (604 669 3939) ( with any information.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Vancouver Residents - Car Stolen, dog in back

We are asking the help of those living in the lower mainland of British Columbia, Canada. At 6:28 on Thursday the truck pictured above belonging to one of our staff was stolen from Chinatown in Vancouver. The St Bernard "Tzou" was in the back. We are all most anxious for his safe recovery. 

Police are involved as is the CBC. If you have any information you can call the Vancouver police or Maiwa.

Thanks in advance to the Maiwa community.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Review - Making Sense of Nonsense

On the last day of September, 2014, Tilleke Schwarz took the audience through a mash-up of contemporary culture and classic stitching. Everything from Beavis and Butt-head to road signs to dinosaurs to words and phrases that have amused her. Her work includes all these things as well as a delightful number of line-drawing illustrations and of course the inevitable cats - which she loves.

Tilleke had the audience in stitches with her intimate presentation and fine comedic timing. She revealed that the best advice she ever got was to include her own personal style of line drawing into her embroider work. It has become a vital element of her hallmark pieces. She also said that she has her signature tags machine made: "Everything I do is hand done," she said "So I thought to have my signature machine made."

Tilleke will teach two sold-out workshops over the next five days.

Tilleke Schwarz Purr-Chase, 2008, 70x76 cm 

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Review - Threads: The Art and Life of Surayia Rahman

On September 25th we welcomed director Cathy Stevulak to present her documentary Threads: The Art and Life of Surayia Rahman. Surayia is an artist who is driven to create: from painting and sketching to working with embroiderers in the tradition of Nakshi kantha tapestry. Threads is a documentary about her life, and about the lives of the women who earn a living through embroidering Surayia's designs.

Full information about the film, including a trailer can be found on the website:

It was a full house and Threads had an emotional impact with the audience. After the film Cathy answered questions about the embroidery, the film-making process, and Surayia's life.

Here is Tim McLaughlin's introduction to the evening:

There are a great many stories in the world. The ones we have not yet experienced are like food that we have not tasted, like buildings we have not entered, or people we have not yet spoken to. They are just around the corner and they are waiting for us. And just like people, some have nothing to say to us, some will tell us what we already know, while others will tell us only we want to hear. But some will tell us something that will change us forever. 
One of the fundamental impacts of the digital revolution is that storytelling has changed. Access to the tools of movie production – which formerly might have cost hundred of thousands of dollars – may be had for the price of a laptop and a good camera. The tools are of incredibly high quality and are now almost inconceivably portable.
As a result, those people with drive and vision can tell many stories that would not have been told before. 
Which is a profound change, especially if you believe, as the Canadian Novelist, Thomas King does, that the truth about stories is that that is all we are. 
All of our ambitions, hopes, failures, achievements, and works, exist, in a very real sense only in the stories that express us. 
Someone who has understood this truth is tonight’s guest, director and film-maker Cathy Stevulak. 
She has spent many years carefully directing the process of interviewing, recording, filming, and editing in order to tell the story that you will hear tonight. It is a story about art and craft, about empowerment and struggle and about one woman who is driven by a singular desire to create. 
Please join me in welcoming Cathy Stevulak …

Next lecture - Making Sense of Nonsense with Tilleke Shwarz on September 30th.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Review - Animating Pattern

On September 23rd, Jane Callender delivered ler lecture "Animating Pattern" it was Jane's second time presenting at Maiwa. She returned with a substantial publication under her belt. 2000 Pattern Combinations: A step-by-step guide to creating pattern has been released in both English and Japanese. It is an invaluable source for anyone who is working with graphic material.

Jane took the audience through some of the secrets of manipulating imagery in a wide ranging talk that ranged from her first childhood fascination with textiles to her most recent studio work.

The evening was introduced by Toby Smith who has made opening the lectures something of an art form in itself. We are happy to reproduce her introductory remarks here:

I am afraid of three things. 
I am afraid of the dark. 
I am afraid of pressure cookers. 
And I am afraid of the vacuum cleaner. 
But none of these fears can compare with the sheer terror of unpicking a piece of shibori. You have spent maybe weeks sewing complicated, convoluted patterns of teeny tiny baby stitches and pulling tight, tighter, tight enough to cut your fingers. You dye your knotty little bundle in indigo. Then, carefully, you cut the stitches, now almost impossible to find amongst the folds. You use expensive pointy-nosed scissors, or a dollar-store seam ripper, or a needle, or your teeth. It could take days to remove all those elusive little stitches without cutting the fabric and making the whole thing worthless.  
And then of course there are those free-wheeling, arbitrary indigo gods. Indigo, always indecisive, first it’s yellow, then it’s green, now it’s blowing purple bubbles at you, now it’s blue. Now bluer. Now darker. Now too dark. 
Yes, Indigo, this scruffy, insignificant little plant with its ordinary leaf and unremarkable flower, that smells like a compost pile, and that bares a remarkable resemblance to a weed, has its own gods. If this is true, now would a good time to pray. Pray for temperance, pray for magic. And if you knew a sorceress now would be a good time to suck up. Pay her fee. Invite her to a city where the palm trees grow beside the beach. Tempt her with promises of cheap sushi and pious acolytes. Sooth her doubts with bunting at the airport and lotus petals in her tea.  
Jane Callender is one such sorceress. 
Her shibori starbursts and petals explode along the surface of fabric like a peony on raspberry gin. Jane’s designs draw us in and mesmerize us. The more you look at one design the more it reveals itself like the fractals of a kaleidoscope.  For all the excitement of her designs, however, they speak of calmness and patience, the patience of stitching, stitching-- through whole seasons of BBC dramas, 3 Veras, 4 Midsomer Murders and decades of Coronation Streets, stitching stitching.  
Indigo and shibori have held Jane's attention since she studied textiles at the West Surrey College of Art and Design in the UK. She went on to study at the Natalie Bray school of Haute Couture. Jane now lives in East Anglia but she teaches all over the world. She has taught and presented her textiles in schools, art colleges and universities, as well as to many groups and guilds.  
As you can see from her work and from her book, Jane has a great love of pattern. She has invented many stitch formats and motifs. Her primary dye is indigo.  Anyone who takes her workshop comes away feeling like they have experienced a huge leap in their knowledge of what is achievable with patterned stitching. I felt after taking Jane’s workshop that I had increased my imaginative capacity and that is a gift that keeps on giving.  
Jane has exhibited and lectured internationally. She has won awards for her amazing work and thanks to Maiwa we have her back in Vancouver again to give two workshops and her lecture tonight. 
I am very pleased to welcome the sorceress back: Jane Callender.
 - Toby Smith

Visit Jane Callender online at: