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The Sheffield culture guide written by in-the-know locals

Seiko Kinoshita

In the entrance hall of Sheffield Central Library, a rush of blue and purple cascades from the ceiling and down the stairwell: a flutter of birds, frozen in time and suspended in the air. Made from 580 pieces of hand-dyed and woven paper yarn, the stunning installation is called Blue Bird, and was created in 2007 by textile artist Seiko Kinoshita. Despite its size it is quite an unassuming sculpture, that gently draws the eye upwards as it leads the way to the Graves Gallery. It brings inside a sense of nature, gives breath to an otherwise inexpressive space, and – typical of much of Seiko’s woven work – has an incredibly peaceful effect on the beholder.

Seiko first came to the UK from Japan to study an MA in textile design. She was then taken into the two-year Starter Studio Programme at Yorkshire Artspace’s Persistence Works, where she continues to dye and weave her yarns at the huge dobby loom in her studio – which you can have a good look round in person at the annual Open Studios weekend.

How would you describe your work?
As a textile artist I use dying and weaving techniques to create installations for specific spaces. More recently, I enjoy incorporating alternative materials and new techniques using the same sensibility.

What inspires you?
Everyday life and nature.

What is your workspace like?
I love my studio with its big old dobby loom taking up much of the room. It’s probably the most comfortable place in the world for me.

What do you love about Sheffield?
Surrounded by beautiful nature, our city is full of interesting, artistic people.

Update: in 2019 Seiko created a socially engaged art installation called Thread in Belper, a historic Derbyshire mill town and World Heritage Site. Scroll down for a short film documenting this project, by filmmaker Daniella Sasaki.

Thread by Seiko Kinoshita for Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, film by Daniella Sasaki

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