Research point one, Project 2, Wabi-Sabi

Notes: (written up in my paper learning log but also added here in note form for my tutor)

Different definitions found on Google:

  • The discovery of beauty in imperfection
  • The acceptance of the cycle of life and death
  • A way of living that focuses on finding beauty within the imperfections of life and accepting peacefully the natural cycle of growth and decay
  • “A japanese way of being and seeing, honouring the beauty of all organic processes of birth, growth, decay, death and new life”– Deborah Barndt [1]
  • Wabi means-freedom from attachment, subtle, profundity. Sabi means- Austere, sublimity, asymmetry
  • “…an appreciation of the transient beauty of the physical world. It embodies the melancholic appeal of the impermanence of all things- especially the modest, the rustic, the imperfect and even the decayed…”– Andrew Juniper [2]

So…Wabi-Sabi is about finding the beauty in imperfection, not seeing it as damaged or old or broken and peeling. Appreciating the stories of these items, the growth of the journey, the transient nature of something, the natural cycle of its life. Nothing lasts forever, appreciate its beauty, in all its stages before its gone. The marks, scars, scrapes, chips, all contribute to the journey of the piece.

How Wabi-Sabi relates to Archive textiles-

Old or archive textiles have been on a journey. Every ripped seam, tear, stain, frayed edge and piece of moth damage contributes to its story. They have a history, a journey they have travelled on and those imperfections help tell the story. Without those imperfections we may not have the whole picture. We need to appreciate the beauty of these marks and imperfections for it is what makes it the piece it is today. You could look at it like a person’s story. Every experience, every piece of knowledge gained, travel taken creates a person’s life, their view of life, makes them who they are. They have been bumped along the way, fallen, stumbled, been let down, have wounds and scars- this makes them who they are. Without those experiences they would be a totally different person. You need to see the whole, the inside and the outside to appreciate the beauty. The damage contributes, rather than takes away from the story. Wabi-Sabi is a very difficult concept to explain!

[1] www.deborahbarnt.comĀ 

[2]From the back cover of Andrew Juniper’s book: Wabi-Sabi: The Japanese art of impermanence

The best explanation of Wabi-Sabi I found was here