KTS had opened its doors internationally since the very beginning, and the reputation as being a school in Kyoto where one can acquire reliable handweaving skills spread gradually by word of mouth from the participants. The final part of our Internationality series is an interview with Flora Waycott, who taught Prang, who we introduced in our previous article. Flora studied at KTS as an exchange student, worked as a textile designer in London, taught textiles in a university in New Zealand, and is now active as an artist and illustrator based in Australia.
|"In my home studio in Australia."|
Flora Waycott (English / Japanese)
Artist / Illustrator
Currently living in Australia
Courses: Tailored Course* (May to August 2003)
*The Tailored Course was a course offered to international students until 2009, arranged according to indivudual requirements. Since then we have shifted to ready-made courses.
-Could you tell us why you chose to study at KTS?
I was on an exchange program from my university in the UK Winchester School of Art for the third term of my second year. The teachers at KTS helped me to tailor my own weaving schedule for the few months I studied at the school. I took a 3 day dye course with Hori sensei and learned how to dye skeins of silk yarn using synthetic and natural dyes. I then wove about 6 metres of a 'tanmono' length, using silk yarn I had dyed during the dye class. After this I wanted to learn the kasuri technique, so my tutor Sakurai sensei helped me to create a length of cloth around 3 metres long with motifs of swallows scattered horizontally throughout. For this cloth, I naturally dyed my silk using 'akane' - the madder root. I also joined the first year students in their spinning class with Nakajima sensei and spun my own wool.
-Could you tell us why you recommended KTS to your student, when you taught textile at Massey University in New Zealand?
I knew that my students who showed a keen interest in weaving would gain new perspectives at KTS and enjoy the creative processes which are so unique to Japan. My student Prang was always attentive and committed - a bright spark in my classes and very keen to develop her knowledge of weaving after graduating from university. I knew that going to Kyoto and studying at KTS would be a wonderful experience for her; not only would she learn to further her studies in weaving, but she would be living in a beautiful part of the world with endless inspiration. I was very happy to hear that she had taken the course and I hoped that she would make as many wonderful memories as I did.
Flora at KTS in 2003. "After dyeing skeins of silk with the madder root, I made a length of cloth scattered with swallows using the kasuri technique, taught to me by my tutor, Sakurai sensei."
My time at Kawashima Textile School left a deep impression on me and is an experience which I treasure and look back on fondly. I grew up in Japan as a child but I had never been to Kyoto, so to live there and to immerse myself in such a creative environment was a dream come true. Weaving is a slow and purposeful practice, and to see the care and attention the students gave to their work was very inspiring. We dyed our own yarn, even spinning it ourselves on occasion, before we even touched the loom...to have this control over the entire process of my weaving made the end result so much more rewarding. The school has an intimate environment; we all got to know each others' projects and I enjoyed watching everyone else's weaving grow and grow on their looms as the weeks went by, cheering each other on. I was very fortunate to be able to try many techniques during my time at KTS: dyeing, weaving, spinning wool and the kasuri technique which I had been curious about for a long time.
As well as enjoying my studies, I remember how warm and welcoming everyone was at the school. One day, along with a group of students, I visited the renowned Indigo dye artist Shindo Hiroyuki at his home studio and we dyed pieces of fabric together, using his indigo dye vats. The other students at the school became like a family. When I left, they gave me origami animals, letters, and small handmade gifts they had made for me, as well as a photo album full of pictures of us all at the school. I still have all of my momentos from that time.
-How has your experience at KTS influenced you?
I am grateful for the opportunity to study at KTS when I was a student; broadening my knowledge of textiles and building foundations for my creative career. My experience gave me direction, not only in my final year at university upon my return to England, but also towards my goal of working in the creative industry. The teachers and students at KTS instilled in me the benefits and rewards of paying attention to every detail of my work with care and I carry this through in my artwork and life as much as possible. I look forward to returning as soon as I can to participate in more courses, to keep learning and growing.
-What does weaving mean to you?
Weaving means taking care, and taking time. There is no need to rush weaving, in fact, you can't. It takes patience, dedication and commitment; it can be all consuming in the best way, if you let it. All of these things appeal to me...it's that feeling of time standing still when you are plunged deep into something you love, giving it all of your attention and getting lost in the process, allowing the outcome to evolve as you weave. It is a wonderful place to be. I am an artist and illustrator now, but I have a small loom so I can reconnect with weaving when I want to. Within the practice of weaving, there is much that can be carried through to everyday life. I always have this in mind when I am creating my artwork, remembering to take care and not rush.
"To me, painting and weaving are intrinsically linked - small details and thoughtful compositions are always present."
Thank you for reading our Internationality series! Our next series, "Tsuzure-ori (tapestry weaving)" starts on Feb. 16, which we hope you enjoy as well.