There is a group of artists who continue to visit from overseas, who say they are inspired by, and find value in the space to immerse themselves in weaving in the environment of the Rakuhoku area, filled with nature, and the experience of weaving on traditional Nishijin-style tsuzure looms. They are Natalie Miller, an Australia-based textile artist who works on a global scale, and the members of her group.
Over three weeks starting from Part 4 of the Tsuzure-Ori series, we will be sharing interviews with Natalie and two members of the group who have been participating since the very beginning, on how they came to participate in the workshop, and what left an impression on them at KTS. We start with an interview with Natalie.
-Could you tell us about your weaving background, and what made you interested in organizing a workshop at KTS and to come back?
I am an Architect and textile artist. I have been tapestry weaving for many years in Australia. I teach tapestry weaving and also host weaving retreats around the world where weaving is a large part of the culture. I had organized a weaving retreat in Koh Samui in Thailand where one of the students, Aroonprapai (Prang) Rojanachotikul, had studied weaving at Kawashima Textile school. Prang spoke very highly of the school, and I was very intrigued and knew I had to visit.
So I organized a visit to KTS 6 years ago and was blown away by how incredible it is. All the large tapestry weavings that hung on the walls, the weavings that are in process, the looms, the wool, the colours, the dyeing studio, and not to mention the tapestry factory, it was amazing. I knew I had to share this place with fellow weavers as they would fall in love with it as I did. The first year I organized a trip to KTS and it involved a dyeing experience with the master dyer at KTS. The years to follow, the trips involved dyeing and a week of tapestry weaving. The group I bring are all very passionate about weaving and we are fully emerged in the process. We would spend 6 days weaving sometimes 14 hour days at the beautiful handmade looms creating a highly detailed and intricate weave.
-What do you remember most about Kondo-sensei’s way of teaching?
Kondo-Sensei is a talented weaver and has great knowledge of tsuzure weaving and also many types of weaving. His passion of weaving (tsuzure-ori) obi is demonstrated in his intricate woven detail in his works. He has an incredible knowledge of design and detail and taught us many techniques. He is kind and very patient with the students. We were provided with an incredible translator. The translation process is smooth and Kondo-sensei demonstrates all his techniques and visually explains his process which helps immensely to understand the process.
-How has your experience at KTS influenced you?
Every December for the last 4 years I have spent time weaving at KTS, something I very much look forward to each year. Unfortunately, Covid cancelled 2020 and may even stop us from weaving at KTS in 2021. However I’m very much looking forward to spending time again at KTS in the future, as it is just such a wonderful experience. The weaving school is surrounded by the hills of Kyoto and beautiful temples. Snow in the winter, and a local Onsen amongst the Japanese trees. Kondo- sensei has taught me some wonderful techniques that I now use in my everyday practice. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity and time spent at KTS in Kyoto, Japan, and the warmth and passion of the staff at KTS make it a truly wonderful experience.
|the flowers of the sun (2019)|
You can visit Natalie's website Natalie Miller or follow her on instagram at @natalie_miller_design