I was lucky to catch the Boro exhibition at Somerset House earlier this week on a quick visit to London. A rare opportunity to see a large number of pieces from one collection. Sitting quietly surrounded by this work I was struck strongly by the time and care that had gone into their survival. Generation after generation layering, piecing and mending with family need at the centre of the work. All those narratives of use running through these domestic wrapping cloths, clothing, floor cloths - every last stitch used to conserve and continue the useful life of the textile. Of course, the aesthetics of the work moved me too, though the display (mainly on stretcher frames) didn't appeal at all. It is so unusual to see 'poor' textiles primarily because so few survive, but also because of the way that heritage is so often collected and displayed in museums and galleries. We often only get to view the 'best', the most ornate, the rarest.
:: There is a catalogue with some very good photography. 'Boro' continues until 26th April. I would also recommend reading 'Boro: Rags and tatters from the far north of Japan' for more detail about the social and economic context of these textiles.
:: Helen has written an excellent review of the exhibition here.