Where did I leave off the previous post? Yes, we need to look at the contest.
Actually, I was greatly surprised that there were no large quilts in a contest this time. The ones we saw last November in Yokohama were all impressive.
By each side of the limited seating area in front of a small stage, two black walls had been erected. The back and front of these walls gave space for a display of small quilts. Those quilts made up the contest. I guess there were about 100 quilts, each measuring approximately 45x45 cm.
The quilts had no names of the makers, nor any titles. All entries were, however, numbered.
On entering the venue, we had been given a small slip of paper. On this, we were invited to write down the number of the quilt we wanted to win this mini-contest. So it was a Visitors' Choice contest.
Here are a few of the entries:
Entry #26 was a colourful quilt with lots of stitching.
Quilt #4 was a complex work of art. The background was made of small Log Cabin blocks. Over it, the dark blue fabric had been cut open and reverse appliquéd into a cat's head. Then there was an intricate quilting pattern over the blue area.
For those who like embroidery, there was a lot of Running Stitch embroidery thread on this piece. The colours fit the season - Spring.
Gradation fabric had been used for the dragonfly and extensive machine quilting for the whole quilt. The flowers were also embroidered (if I remember correctly).
I think the grey background was a print. The appliquéd flowers and leaves stood out against that foundation.
Petals from a cherry tree accompany this couple dancing in the night sky against the backdrop of the full moon.
There is not a single cherry blossom in this piece but any Japanese would know this is a spring scene. Every year on May 5th Children's Day is celebrated. Families with small boys decorate their homes with dolls (samurai fighters in armour), helmets, iris blossoms and flying carps. These are all symbols of strength and bravery, needed to fight troubles, life's hardships and injustice.
It was difficult to take pictures of these mini-quilts. The crowds pressed on, there was too little space to stand back and take pictures of the whole wall, and many quilts were hung high up and almost out of camera reach.
Also, as I am not a member of Japan Quilt Society, I had no background information on this contest or indeed details of the show as a whole.
Although I am a bit disappointed with the show, it gave me the opportunity to meet up with friends, and together we had a great time. Going to a quilt show with friends always makes you see things differently, the more pairs of eyes, the more you see!
By chance, we bumped into a lady we have met before in Tokyo Dome, lovely, bubbly Lynette from Australia, who instantly recognised my friend Julie.
It is so nice to see foreign visitors again in Tokyo. The pandemic forced many to stay away because of strict border controls and quarantines.
Finally, I would like to say:
The pandemic put a stop to major quilt shows, like Yokohama International Quilt Week and Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival. They were sponsored by big companies in broadcasting and publishing, drawing huge crowds and showering us with inspiration.
There now appears to be a shift in the making, showing and promotion of quilts in Japan, and I feel that at the moment there is a bit of confusion about which way to go forward. I am, however, very grateful that a handful of quilters have taken the initiative to try to lead the way into the future. Thank you to Japan Quilt Society.
Unfortunately, several of the established quilters and teachers, who have done so much for promoting quilting in Japan in the past, are retiring or at least slowing down their work. Quilt groups, schools and small shops must have suffered a lot, too.
Another change is that there are not as many quilt magazines in the shops as before, which is a pity for the older generation of quilters who might not fully appreciate or make use of online courses and YouTube lessons.
In the past, quilting was a great activity for housewives after their children had left the nest. I guess this is one reason why Japanese quilters have excelled in meticulous handmade quilts in the past, they had time and patience.
These days, however, most young women continue to work after getting married and having a family. They now hold jobs with more responsibilities but also shoulder housework and family care. Thus they have less time for themselves and hobbies like quilting.
In the future, I hope there will be more opportunities for 'mother and child quilting' and 'lunchtime quilting' among colleagues and other opportunities to keep quilting alive.
There should also be a reborn interest in the quilting of used clothes and textiles. SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) #12 embraces Responsible Consumption and Production. Japanese women have in the past shown how recycling and reusing clothes and textiles in quilting can be turned into art, like boro, sashiko and mending/darning. It would be nice if this form of quilting regained popularity.
So I wonder what form Tomorrow's Quilting will take here in Japan.
Japan Quilt Society will hold the next quilt show in Yokohama, November 24th - 26th, 2023.