Assign 2 Part 1 Project 2 Research Point 1 Wabi Sabi

Project Research Point 1 – Wabi-Sabi

1.Japanese concept of ‘wabi-sabi’ – What is the Concept? What do I think?

The Japanese concept of ‘wabi-sabi’ has been associated with the tea ceremony originally. It has developed to be considered “a beauty of things imperfect, impermanent and incomplete; a beauty of things modest and humble and a beauty of things unconventional”(Leonard Koren, 2008, Introduction). Serena Barton( 2013 )has described the term as a “kind of philosophy, aesthetic and feeling”. Man made and natural objects may display ‘wabi-sabi’ characteristics. There is an element of rustic, the passing of time, weathering, simple that appeals to the emotions to one’s feelings. It can also be reflected in traditional haiku poetry which also appeals to the senses. Colours often are murky, earthy and may contain interesting texture.

Wabi-sabi for me would encourage me to work from my heart from my intuition. I have taken some photos from my garden that to me inspire thoughts of wabi-sabi these are included below. I have also located an old piece of Japanese boro fabric that I own and taken photos of what appeals in a ‘wabi-sabi’ context.


Decaying leaf

Old Chairs(photo2); Paperbark tree trunk with paperbark coming off(photo3) and Bird of Paradise flower past its prime(photo 4)

Old Boro Fabric bought from a trader who operates in Japan and has a shop in New Zealand.

2. Why might it be a relevant concept to try to get to grips with in relation to my archive?

I think there are special qualities in objects that reflect the passage of time. It shows the impermanence of life and the need to make the most of our time but to remain calm and in balance. My archive pieces are old and in the case of the Indian rug made from old saris and repurposed into a rug. Similarly the kantha purse is repurposed from an old dhoti.  I appreciate the beauty in these textiles.

3.How might this influence my textile work?

It could be that in doing collage I work intuitively with old pieces of fabric or paper to produce art pieces. I try different combinations, I might unpick, work new combinations might emerge. If I look at some of my collage work there is a simplicity in the design but a complexity in the layering and patterns and type and perhaps the age of fabric. On further reflection it should help me with my procrastination caused I suspect by my desire to do a “perfect” piece and help me to value the imperfect!


Leonard Koren, 2008, “Wabi-Sabi for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers, Imperfect Publishing Point Reyes, California

Serena Barton, 2013, “Wabi-Sabi Art Workshop”, ebook copy North Light Books, Cincinnati

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