I was reading this morning about Shibui – a Japanese term that describes a certain characteristic of an art piece (whatever the medium: clay, landscaped gardens, poetry, painting, quilts etc). I realized that this word helps me to define my (hitherto) inchoate sensibility. This is the Quality I want in my work!
The word ‘shibui’ (or ‘shibusa’) has a fairly wide meaning – it describes a piece that shows the hand of the maker (and how I hate those quilt show judges who define excellent quilting as that which does not show the hand of the maker!). It indicates a natural form and texture (the beauty of the fibre and the stitch itself); it also suggests a quietness, a simple flow and, thus, an elegance. Works of art that appear to be perfect and machine made are not inspiring, not fascinating – it is the twists and turns of nature that bring a piece to life.