CULTEX- Textile as cross-cultural language, at HUB

CULTEX is an international collaborative exhibition, exploring cross-cultural exchange through three artistic partnerships between Norway and Japan. The project was initiated, and has been curated by Lesley Millar.

This handout provides brief biographical information about each of the artists, a statement regarding their general artistic concerns and information on their collaborative works produced through the CULTEX collaboration.

A statement by each artist explaining the concept of their installation can be found on the walls of the gallery.

Further information on the exhibition and exhibitors can be found in the Roof Gallery, on the 4th Floor. Here the exhibition website, exhibition catalogue and selected artist catalogues are displayed. These resources offer insight into individual practices and the CULTEX pairings, tracking the artists experiences over the course of this 18 month long project, while providing an over view of contemporary textile practice in Norway and the UK.

The exhibition catalogue is for sale at the Hub reception.

Machiko Agano

Machiko Agano was born in Kobe, Japan. She trained as a weaver and is now a Professor in the Textile Department of the Kyoto Seika University, as well as a practising ar tist, exhibiting extensively nationally and internationally. Recent exhibitions in the UK include: ‘Through the Surface’ at the James Hockey and Foyer Galleries, UCA , Farnham; ‘Out There’ at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts; and ‘Revealed’ at the Nottingham Castle Museum and Gallery.

Agano’s practice traces a continuing fascination with the power of the natural world, and a concern for its future. For example, previous works by Agano have responded to the changing weather conditions in Japan - heavy rains, increased earthquakes and typhoons. Historically her work has appeared as large-scale installations of hand-knitted wire, paper and thread, often hanging in soft, organic and fluid forms.

Working with materials of neutral colours, she has allowed the light of the space to dictate the colour of the piece. In recent years Agano’s practice has expanded to incorporate other materials and the works displayed here in CULTEX, which utilize imagery of mass-produced items and advertising, are a clear departure from previous collections.

CULTEX will be shown at the Hub from 30 January - 18 April 2010 before travelling on to Rugby Museum & Art Gallery 22nd June - 22nd August 2010.

Images top - bottom: Eva Schjølberg, Machiko Agano and

Machiko Agano (test installation). Photography by Øystein



Anniken Amundsen

Since completing her studies at Winchester School of Art in the 1990s, Anniken Amundsen has practiced both in the UK and in Norway. Amundsen’s approach is cross-disciplinary. She incorporates photography, sculpture and textile practice - combined with the use of traditional techniques and unusual materials. Characterised by an organic and ‘bodily’ aesthetic that is both familiar yet other-worldly, Amundsen’s works have been described as “simultaneously both attractive and repulsive”1 in their appearance.

‘‘In today’s world dominated by high technology and escalating consumption, ecological change and new threatening diseases emerge and create fear and insecurity on the same level as terror and war. In my ar t practice I examine the ways in which nature and organic life is disturbed and appear more than ever as uncontrollable and unpredictable.’’2

1 & 2 Anniken Amundsen in correspondence with Melanie Kidd, Hub Head of Exhibitions, December 2009


Machiko Agano and Anniken Amundsen

Prior to the CULTEX par tnership, Machiko Agano and Anniken Amundsen had already worked collaboratively on the ‘Through the Surface’ project and during this period they recognised a shared fascination for the natural world and its invisible forces. Their respective visits to one another’s homes – Agano who works in the vibrant but polluted urban centre of Kyoto, and in contrast, Amundsen’s ‘green’ suburb of Oslo, literally submerged in nature – fur ther fuelled their concerns over the destruction of our natural world.

In their collaborative piece for CULTEX, the colour green was selected as a common colour for both artists, to express their shared concern for our environment. Likened to the contradictions of modern life, the colour green has many conflicting associations. It symbolises peace, safety, nature, health, freshness, yet is also representing weakness, decay, poison, ill health etc. Whilst the organic forms within the installation represent nature, Agano’s flowers also illustrate over-consumption and over-production, whilst Amundsen’s beautiful but disturbing ‘creatures’ allude to mutation, modification and the unknown.

Kiyonori Shimada

Alongside Machiko Agano, Kiyonori Shimada is one of the foremost textile ar tists in Japan, with his work held in collections in Japan, Brazil and the USA. He studied at Musashino Art University, Tokyo in the late 1980s, and in addition to his practice as an artist, he currently lectures at Okayama Prefectural University. This is Shimada’s first exhibition in the UK.

“From organs to cells - the memory confined in them has been handed over from

the primeval age.” 3

Since his years as a student Shimada’s work has taken the guise of large-scale textile

installations as architectural interventions. Often described as organic and womb-like

in appearance, Shimada’s creations literally engulf or confront the spectator through

their sheer mass and distorted sense of scale. Through his work Shimada seeks to

challenge notions of primal memory and the evolutionary significance of life:

“At the moment we were born, the amniotic fluid we had been immersed in was

succeeded by a soft cloth to wrap us. This touch of cloth imprints on a baby’s

Images top - bottom: Anniken Amundsen, Machiko Agano

& Anniken Amundsen collaboration (test installation), and

Kiyonori Shimada. Photography by Øystein Thorvaldsen.

subconscious memory and has been transmitted up to current adult feelings, so that

one feels at home when he sees or touches a familiar cloth, much more stay in a

space surrounded by cloth.…I eventually agreed to the idea that the texture of cloth

itself contains something directly effective, by the memory of touching, on what we

have accumulated in our minds. This might make a stronger impression when facing a

work.” 4

3&4: Statement by Kiyonori Shimada,


Gabriella Göransson

Educated at the Oslo National Academy of Ar ts 1985-1990, Gabriella Göransson

has exhibited predominantly throughout Scandinavia and the Baltic countries and

has received several ar tists grants since 1999. She specializes in creating threedimensional

ar tistic installations and public ar t commissions. The main material she

works with is hand-made paper produced from a variety of fibre materials.

“Recycling is an aspect of my work. That I am able to dye my neighbors discarded

Christmas table cloth, which she intended to throw out, and let it be par t of an

installation, holds value for me.”5

Göransson creates work from old sheets and cloths, or recycles old pieces of

work into new constellations. She dyes and moulds paper pulp, which Is then often

combined with aluminum, wood, fabric or beeswax. In recent years her ar tistic

focus has been on organic, primordial shapes which can operate in moveable and

interchangeable arrangements.

5: Statement by Gabriella Göransson,


Gabriella Göransson and Kiyonori Shimada

“Kiyonori Shimada working with cloth, Gabriella Göransson working with fibre and

paper, both explore ways of accumulating surface texture that will result in the

material transformation from one state to another. Their monumental structures and

intimate modules reverberate with memories long forgotten” 6

Early on in their collaboration Shimada and Göransson recognised similarities in their

practice. One being ‘a sense of place’ with intense consideration given to the placing

of their work within the wider architectural space; the other being a shared interest

in primeval life, ancient oceans, past-future-present and memory.

These ideas are expressed within their collaborative piece ‘A Space Within Space’

(working title). Göransson’s ear th coloured objects outline themselves almost as frail

drawings or webbed structures against the bright walls of the gallery, and the gentle

rustling waves of Shimada’s construction.

6: Statement by Lesley Millar from the Cultex Journals,


Eva Schjølberg

After graduating from the Oslo National Academy of the Art Eva Schjølberg

embarked upon a research scholarship to Japan (MEXT). She lives and works in Oslo,

receiving the Norwegian Guaranteed Income for Artists. The importance of Japanese

art and culture is of great influence within her work, which can be traced in her

portfolio of exhibitions throughout Europe and Asia. Her practice has transcended

fashion, costume and wearable art, combining it with her interests in papermaking,

origami, natural science, philosophy and religion.

Challenged by the concept of creating three-dimensional, freestanding works

from textile which is soft and fragile; Schjølberg utilizes folding techniques to

create clearly defined geometric forms, presented as installations. The edges of the

constructions and the spaces in between, tend to create textures and new shapes

that are as equally important as the forms themselves. Reminiscent of crystals and

often produced in white, the works both invite and reflect light and demonstrate

Schjølberg’s fascination with the organic quality of textiles.

“In the meeting between geometrical shapes made of textile, and a body, nature

or architecture I search to express reflections of both the physical and the abstract

world.” 7

7: Statement by Eva Schjølberg from correspondence with Melanie Kidd, January 2010.


Yuka Kawai

Yuka Kawai studied Textiles in Japan, the UK and the United States. She is currently

Associate Professor at Tama Art University, Tokyo and exhibits internationally. Kawai

specialises in hand weaving and describes this solitary and rhythmic process as a

soothing antidote to her bustling life in Tokyo: ‘The solidity of the loom makes me

feel ambivalent: it brings serenity, but sometimes also a disquieting irritation.’ 8

Kawai is inspired by the process of making and allows the nature of the material to

dictate the development of the work: ‘I try to avoid becoming overly captivated by

technique and craftsmanship because it can disturb the process.’ 9

Kawai’s works also respond to architecture and space, often creating textiles to be

presented as installation. She states: ‘I am drawn to spaces that evoke a certain

physical or emotional state. I am interested in how ar t works are situated in space

and how this can create an experience that stimulates all the senses.’ 10

8, 9 & 10: Text from Art Textiles of the World: Japan. Volume 2. Telos Art Publishing.


Yuka Kawai and Eva Schjølberg

Kawai and Schjølberg both work with textile in a three-dimensional and large-scale

capacity and are concerned with technique, construction and the presentation of

textiles. They have a shared interest in existential and environmental topics which

inspired the content of their collaborative piece ‘Precious Field.’ Their concept

became based on the notions of ‘Field’ and ‘Gravity’, inspired by the book ‘Gravity

and Grace’ by Simon Weil.

Their installation appears as rolls of translucent netting – an industrially produced

material that is used for domestic purposes. Each cylinder has a pink centre

comprising various textile processes - pleating, felting, shibori,* weaving, sewing..

These ‘centres’ appear to be hidden, protected or captured within the cylinders. The

way in which the light seeps through the nylon netting is reminiscent of how light

filters through Japanese paper windows (shoji).

Through the collaboration both became acutely aware of the conflicting

environmental nature of their respective homes of Oslo and Tokyo. As such the

collaborative work combines handmade materials with the mass produced mesh. The

piece will be altered or added to each time it is exhibited in a new space.

* Shibori is a Japanese term that incorporates many methods of dyeing cloth whilst introducing a pattern.

Techniques include folding, binding (tie-dye), stitching and twisting.

Images top - bottom: Eva Schjølberg, Yuka Kawai and their

collaborative piece. Previous page: Kiyonori Shimada,

Gabriella Göransson, KS and GG collaboration and Eva

Schjølberg. Photography by Øystein Thorvaldsen.