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Unknown maker, Japanese, Boro (detail), c. late 19th century
Hand-loomed & hand-woven indigo dyed cotton & hemp cloth, hand-pieced & repaired, 95 x 160cm
© Leanne O’Sullivan

Thread of Life

Japanese Textiles


Free Entry


Saturday 26th June - Sunday 24th October 2021


10.00am - 4.00pm


Ararat Gallery TAMA




Thread of Life 2021 Catalogue

The Japanese word boro can be translated to rags, but there is a deeper meaning hidden within the threads and stitches of these patched textiles. Characterised by meticulous stitching, hues of indigo, and many-layered patchwork, boro originated as a thrifty utilitarian technique since before the 19th century but is now considered a highly prized form of unintentional abstract textile art.

Collector Leanne O’Sullivan first encountered the intriguing indigo patchwork while living in Japan in the 1980s. O’Sullivan’s collection has been gathered on trips across Japan, from the snow country of Nagano in the north, around the mountains of Fuji to the seas of Japan, with some pieces dating back to the Meiji era (1868-1912).

“Whilst living in Japan, I was constantly inspired by the extreme contrasts around me – everywhere I looked there seemed to be a mix of the traditional and contemporary co-existing beautifully.”

Leanne O’Sullivan lives and works in Melbourne, Australia, where she designs fashion accessories and craft kits, and teaches workshops in traditional Japanese crafts and culture.

In response to these textile pieces, this exhibition includes a small selection of objects from the TAMA Collection, originating from The Art of the Japanese Package, an exhibition curated by Hideyuki Oka that toured to 10 Australian and 11 New Zealand public galleries in 1979 and 1980. At the conclusion of the tour, The Japan Foundation and the Crafts Board of the Australia Council donated the majority of the exhibition to the Gallery for its collection.

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