December 2022

Exhibition: Song of Izumo

December 3, 2022 – January 6, 2023

Kacho Fugetsu: Peacock (2003), 203 x 238. ©Izumo Museum of Quilt Art

Mutsuko Yawatagaki is a native of Shimane Prefecture, located along the Japan Sea coast. It is one of the least populous and least visited areas of the country, yet figures prominently in early chronicles and mythology as the "birthplace" of Japan. Drawing inspiration from this rich local history and culture, Yawatagaki creates large-scale pictorial wall hangings using a combination of Western and Asian handwork techniques, including dyeing, quilting and embroidery. She works almost exclusively with traditional Japanese fabrics, most carefully salvaged from antique kimono and obi that are themselves works of art.

Artist Mutsuko Yawatagaki
Left: Grand Shrine of Izumo (2013), 190 x 165; Right: Oyama, Celebration of a Pilgrimage (2021), 246 x 216). ©Izumo Museum of Quilt Art
Hasu (lotus), a collaboration between Mutsuko Yawatagaki (fabric panels) and Belgian artist Daniel Ost (arrangement in foreground), exhibited at the Grand Shrine of Izumo in 2013 on the occasion of the Heisei Dai-sengu ritual rebuilding of the shrine. ©Izumo Museum of Quilt Art
Ibis of Izumo (2010), 230 x 230. ©Izumo Museum of Quilt Art

In 2006, Yawatagaki renovated a 200-year-old traditional residence and opened the Izumo Museum of Quilt Art as a showcase for her work. The museum is not large; a typical exhibition will feature only nine or 10 of her works, but each is presented as part of an installation and complemented by imaginative flower arrangements.

Yawatagaki now ranks among Japan’s top quilters, featuring regularly in needlework and general-interest magazines. Her work has been exhibited in major museums, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo and the National Quilting Museum in the U.Ss. In 2013, she collaborated with Belgian artist Daniel Ost on a special exhibition to commemorate the Heisei Dai-sengu ritual rebuilding of the Grand Shrine of Izumo. Two of the pieces selected for this exhibition at the FCCJ are being shown in Tokyo for the first time, including a new work, completed in 2021, that celebrates Mt. Oyama in nearby Kanagawa Prefecture and its ongoing tradition of mountain pilgrimage.

Bruce Osborn (FCCJ Exhibition Committee Chair) & Peter Lyon (Co-Chair)