Together with a long academic involvement in Japanese language teaching methodology, Mary Taguchi has simultaneously had much involvement in the history and function of Japanese indigo-dyed cotton textiles.
Her much loved work with textiles is housed in Braidwood NSW, at Mingei Studio and Altenburg & Co. Designing and making is done in Mary’s studio and the retail outlet is at Altenburg & Co.
It is Mingei, the crafts movement of the 1920s in Japan, acknowledging the unconscious arts of ordinary people, that has empowered Mary’s work. Seeing the beauty of simple, everyday, utilitarian objects, whose forms were arrived at intuitively, has led Mary to a collection of her own indigo dyed cotton textiles that has inspired her work for years.
Travelling extensively and regularly in Japan, Mary has established working relationships with traditional dyers, weavers and stencillers, all small family studios preserving the accumulated knowledge of generations of craftspeople. In particular, Mary has been instrumental in encouraging weavers towards a revival of old patterns.
Bringing these cloths to her studio in Braidwood, an hour from Canberra, Mary produces beautiful, useful garments from new and old cotton fabric. Collections of old patterns and humble workwear have been a guide to her work and form part of her designs. It is the treatments of indigo dyed cotton cloth, within Japan’s historical framework, that drive her; woven, stitched, tied and stencilled, the narrow 38cm bolts of cloth are thriftily cut into items of functional simplicity and modest elegance.