Worn with Pride — Textiles, Kimono, and Propaganda in Japan, 1925-1945

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Japan has a rich tradition of textile production, crafting remarkable fabrics that reveal the country’s considered aesthetics. From century to century, decorative fabrics have been used to adorn the body and bring pleasure not only to those who wore them, but also to all who saw them. One period of history, however, highlights a remarkable change in the visual design of Japanese textiles.

Commemorating the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, The Japan Foundation, London has invited Dr Jacqueline M. Atkins, to give a special illustrated talk on the capacity of cloth to communicate the persuasive power of Japanese propaganda of the time. While presenting various examples of the striking designs used in garments from children’s kimonos to adult attire, Dr Atkins will map the evolution in pattern design during a time of conflict that produced a new look in fashion. She will also discuss the meanings behind the distinct graphics represented in the textiles, and why these unique visual references symbolised the social, cultural, and even political interest and patriotism of this period in Japanese history.

Dr Jacqueline M. Atkins, a textile historian, was Chief Curator and the Kate Fowler Merle-Smith Curator of Textiles for the Allentown Art Museum in Allentown, Pennsylvania. She has lectured extensively on Japanese modern textiles, Japanese and American quilts, and American folk art. Her publications include Wearing Propaganda: Textiles on the Home Front in Japan, Britain, and the United States, 1931–1945, based on her exhibition of the same name, and “Japanese Novelty Textiles” in The Brittle Decade: Visualizing Japan in the 1930s. She holds a Ph.D. from Bard Graduate Center for Decorative Arts, Design History, and Material Culture.

Date: 14 May 2015 from 6.30pm
Venue: The Swedenborg Society, 20-21 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2TH

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