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Toshiko Horiuchi



Horiuchi is not showing any of her actual work at the Knitting & Stitching Show, but she has been happy to allow us to present documentation of her work to introduce her to a new audience.

Toshiko Horiuchi Macadam is one of Japan's leading fibre artists, and one of a very small number that sometimes use knitting or crochet in their work. Living in Canada, she now specialises in creating large, interactive textile environments that function both as imaginative and vibrant explorations of colour and form, at the same time as providing thrilling play environments.

She was born in 1940 and attended Hibiya High School - a school known throughout Japan for it's high standards. She studied fine art at the Tama Art University, Tokyo, followed by a Masters at Cranbrook Academy of Art, Michigan.

  The beginning of her career coincided with the development of 'fibre art' as an active sub-section within the fine art world. Her work was very much a part of the new wave of fibre art that happened in the 1970's, and she was one of several Japanese artists to make a deep impression.

'Fibre Columns/Romanesque Church'
sprang, nylon rope - 15' x 90' x 12'


'Fibre Columns/Romanesque Church' and 'Atmosphere of the Floating Cube' were two pieces that were featured within several major accounts of that movement, in books such as 'The Art Fabric Mainstream' by Mildred Constantine & Jack Lenor Larsen. There they describe how 'she knit hundreds of gold and silver lengths, stretched them into concave panels, and composed them as a cube. Then, with powerful knee-height floodlights, she transformed the whole into a haloed radiance.'


Working on a large scale seems to be a part of Horiuchi's character. Larsen & Constantine noted that, at the time of writing, apart from the work of Horiuchi and Anne Sutton, knitting was mostly used in miniature textile work.

In the early 1970's, with the fibre art movement still in full flow, Horiuchi underwent a fairly radical shift of direction. From this point her work shifted out of the gallery, and we find her making work that exists specifically to be used and explored rather than simply looked at. She also seems to leave behind the cool, muted pallette that characterises her early work, in favour of the rioutously vibrant colours of the rainbow.

  The principal 'explorers' of her new work, as you will see on the next page, are children who seem to discover there something gloriously free from barriers and constraints, a world every bit as vivid as their own and one that seems to provide a playing heaven that, surely, they knew all along must exist somewhere.
'Luminous Column', exhibited at 'Fabric in Space'
Tokyo Metropolitan Art Museum.

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