Suzanne Howie is a textile artist involved in the design, teaching and sharing of the Japanese technique of sashiko and boro. Sue is fascinated by the narrative potential of Sashiko stitching, and its application to Australian Indigenous art concepts.
She designs, teaches, and is highly driven to share her passion for this art-form with people of all ages, be they eight or 108. Indeed, this is a craft where all generations can become involved. Sashiko itself developed from humble beginnings, at a time when Japanese peasant women practiced a patching technique called ‘Boro’.A frugal necessity, Japanese women would use scraps of fabric to patch worn garments, bed linen and suchlike to extend their use. These patches were stitched lovingly onto the garments using a ‘stabbing stitch’, or ‘sashiko’, which roughly translates to ‘little stabs’. Over time, decorative flourishes were added using the sashiko stitch.
Sashiko has evolved into a more refined art-form today, with more structure and refined stitch lengths. Such a freedom of expression led her to develop and explore a ‘Melding of Cultures’ concept. She says that she teaches both boro- and sashiko- inspired stitching.
Sue has a longstanding respect and admiration for Australian Indigenous art. Its seemingly simple approach and design gives way to elaborately detailed stories in fascinating ways. These stories have inspired Sue’s work and she has applied the sashiko method to exploring Aboriginal art.
The result was a series of four ‘noren’ panels (Japanese textile wall hangings), called The Threaded Pathways. She followed this up with two more noren panel series: Threaded Dreaming, and Threaded Moonscape.
She has over time expanded her expertise to design more contemporary pieces using both sashiko and boro methods.