That Boro exhibition at Somerset House, close up

boro 06I promised images of the Japanese Boro exhibition by Gordon Reece and Philippe Boudin when it opened, so here they are. The show is extensive and inspiring and I’d recommend a trip to Somerset House, where it’s on in the East Wing until April 26th. For those who can’t visit, here are some of the highlights.

The Boro pieces on show were constructed out of poverty and need. According to tradition, all scraps of fabric big enough to cover two beans were kept to patch and mend Boro, which was only made in the poorest  areas of northern Japan.

Now of course, they look like abstract art and it’s uncanny how similar they are to work by modern artists such as Paul Klee, Matisse and even Picasso. Middleagedad was mightily impressed and he’s not a textile lover at all.

Due to the limited supply of Boro, it’s unlikely there will be a collection of this size exhibited again any time soon. There’s a book for sale at the exhibition featuring many of the best pieces, which I bought and would recommend.

boro 01

boro 02Up close, you can see textural intrigue created by the rough stitches, faded colours and distressed and worn cotton.

boro close up 01

boro 03Commoners were only allowed to wear dark colours such as brown, indigo and black, but occasionally a scrap of tan, a piece of gingham or a small floral print is seen.

boro close up

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boro close up 04

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  • Sue says:

    Thank you for this recommendation.I would never have thought to go otherwise.I did and it was fantastic.The best thing I’ve seen in ages.Somerset House has suddenly over the last year or so, turned into a place I need to go.Xsue

  • Antoinette Williams says:

    Loved the posts on Boro. Living on the Isle of Man makes it difficult to get to the exhibition but the Wearable Art group I belong to will be taking the concept of Boro for our next theme to create fantasy garments. We’re researching the subject, what a shame theres no catalogue for seal on the Somerset House website. Your post has sparked our creativity! Thank you.

  • Amanda says:

    Brilliant you enjoyed it both, Antoinette, I suggest you ring Gordon Reece direct for the excellent catalogue, details on It’s £20 and I’m sure they’d send it to you. Ax

  • Antoinette Williams says:

    Thank you, Amanda! I’ll follow up your suggestion. I’ll also send you photos of our creations in a few months.

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