The exhibition is set to run from the 23rd February.

(c)Elon Shoenholz

The Japan House is set to present the first UK exhibition about the art of kumihimo to bring together its 1300-year history as well as exploring kumhimo’s vibrant current applications, from formal and contemporary fashion to science and engineering. 

Translating as ‘joining threads together’, kumihimo refers to braided cord from Japan. It is characterised by vivid colours and intricate patterns, and is created by expert craftspeople who combine up to 140 hand-dyed threads, often made of silk. This exhibition has been created by Yusoku Kumihimo Dōmyō (Domyo), a company located in the old shopping and entertainment district of Ueno in central Tokyo, which has been making braided silk cords by hand since 1652.

This display will will bring the history of Japanese braiding to life with floor-to-ceiling installations, absorbing videos, presentations of tools and processes and more than 50 different examples of the braids themselves, imaginatively presented throughout the gallery. It will be divided into three different sections, taking visitors from the history of the art to its structure and what its future holds.

Simon Wright, Director of Programming at Japan House London, commented: “This exhibition invites the visitor to come closer and delight in the beauty of intricate detail. The continuation in Japan today of the centuries-old tradition of producing kumihimo is not only a respect for what has gone before, but also a story of how this art can survive and provide a source of inspiration for the future. The skills of dyeing and braiding silk are acts that support people’s livelihoods; this is about sustainable business in the modern world. Through this in-depth exploration of kumihimo, I hope that we can discover more about the ties that bind us rather than that which might keep us apart.”

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