Shizuko Kuroha’s quilts resonate with an ethereal energy. Antique Japanese indigo-dyed textiles give her work depth, while traditional sarasa fabrics—block-prints in a lighter, warmer palette—provide counterpoint. Together, they create a synergy between dark and light, figure and ground, tangible and intangible. Together, they also emblemize Kuroha’s 40 years as a leading Japanese quilt artist.
Kuroha discovered quilts while living in the United States in the mid-1970s. Seeing an antique quilt for the first time was life-changing: “The moment I saw the quilt, I was filled with warm, nostalgic feelings, as if I was looking at an old family photo. It captured me so strongly, that I could not say anything. Its impact was tremendous.” After learning quiltmaking in the U.S., she returned to Japan anxious to construct quilts that reflected her own culture. She researched Japan’s rich textile heritage and built a collection of antique fabrics. These became building blocks for the complex pieced patterns that are now a hallmark of her globally-recognized artwork.
With this exhibition, Shizuko Kuroha shares her quilts with U.K. audiences for the first time. About half the pieces are featured in her latest book, Pieces of My Life: A Story of Fabrics and Passion (QuiltMania Editions, 2018), and several of them will soon join the permanent collection of the International Quilt Study Center & Museum, U.S.A.