Fabric Art by Jacob Kijne
Every few months the corridors of Collington’s main building are the site for a new exhibit of art work done by residents. These shows will be featured on the website as they occur. This summer, one corridor is the site of a show of fabric art by resident Jacob Kijne.
Jacob, an irrigation engineer and soil scientist, started creating fabric art when he was living and working in Lahore, Pakistan. He bought a sewing machine, and had his secretary translate the manual from Urdo. Inspired by the ready availability of local fabrics, he made his first piece, Sunflowers, shown in the exhibit and center below.
When he moved to Sri Lanka to become Research Director of the International Water Management Institute in Colombo, there were more great fabrics available, and also some great scenery that inspired a number of wall hangings.
In retirement Jacob married for the second time, and spent over a decade consulting on water issues to several developing countries, based first in a small home north of London, and then condos in Washington DC. Some of the hangings he made during these years are also in the show.
Above left is a view of the houses in the Dupont Circle area; Jacob had a view similar to this from the window of his office/work room in the one-bedroom condo he lived in when first coming to Washington. Above right is a hanging commissioned by his wife Marian Fuchs (also now a Collington resident); she wanted something in the colors of the great room of their home in England.
After some time, the couple moved to a larger condo in the heart of downtown DC. This home had lots of windows, and not very much wall space. So Jacob made a series of long, thin wall hangings to display between the tall, thin windows. Here are some on display in the Collington corridor this summer, show here sideways.
This wall hanging was made after attending an exhibit at the Textile Museum a few years ago. The show was called Kuba Textiles and the Woven Art of Central Africa. The mats, blankets and baskets were all done in shades of beige and black or dark brown, and were a feast for the eyes of intricate abstract patterns..
This piece is called ‘Red Squares’. The fabrics are left-overs from making pillow covers for the new condo ‘great room’. Most of the textiles came from stores in England and the US, but a few were collected during visits to India.
‘Umbrellas’ was inspired by the long escalator at the north entrance to the Dupont Circle metro. On rainy days riders keep their umbrellas up until they are half way down the escalator and in the metro proper. The bright colors are always a charm on a grey day.
Above is part of the wedding quilt shown in full at the start of this article. When Jacob and Marian married in England in 2004, guests were asked to give as gifts a scrap of fabric to be included in the quilt. The big center piece was the fabric Jacob used to make his bride a dress for the occasion.
Here are two more hangings from the exhibit. The first was made in nostalgia for winter, while Jacob was living in the tropics.
Ten Birds was inspired by a painting by Fred Tomaselli in an exhibition in 2000 in the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Jacob made the hanging 17 years later, so any resemblance is unlikely. A generous donation of fabrics from a fellow resident, stimulated Jacob to finally make the piece.