Hisae Abe graduated from the BA (Hons) Hand Embroidery Degree in 2020.  Influenced by Japanese heritage and tradition, Hisae brought a fresh and new approach to the Japanese Kimono for her third year major project. 

“I applied to the BA (Hons) Hand Embroidery initially because I wanted to develop my creative skills, which I think is really valuable. Although I didn’t have embroidery skills or an artistic background, I had a strong passion for learning something new and creative.

When I knew that the RSN offered the only Degree Course in Hand Embroidery in Europe and it has prestige throughout the world, I thought that it would be advantageous for my future career if I learnt there. Then I flew to the UK from Japan to join the Degree Open Day. When I walked through Hampton Court Palace to go to the Degree Studio rooms, I instantly fell in love with it.  I thought that the magnificent Hampton Court Palace itself would provide an inspiring atmosphere to work and it would be a great place to cultivate and explore creativity.

One of my favourite projects during the course was the collaboration with HRH The Duchess of Cambridge, for her garden ‘Back to Nature’, at Hampton Court Garden Festival 2019.  We created a den for this project and it was so exciting to see our work shaping up in large scale. Not only did it allow me to develop my ability to work in a team with other creatives, it also gave me confidence for my future career.  The RSN offers rare and exceptional projects that are not available anywhere else.

For my final major project, I created a Kimono which was inspired by my mother’s own Kimono of peonies and chrysanthemums. Her Kimono was created by traditional Japanese detailed hand craftsmanship, Japanese hand embroidery and Shibori, which is exquisite hand dyeing. I wanted to bring something new to my Kimono and created three-dimensional embellishments. I  have expressed the natural cycle in which the flowers bloom, the petals fall and pile up on the floor and the flowers bloom again. This is like our lifecycle and contains the wish I have, that the Japanese tradition of the Kimono is inherited and continues into the next generation.

I used silk white organza for the Kimono so a vibrant red undergarment can be seen through it. Red was a hidden colour. In times gone by, the Japanese government banned the wearing of red on the Kimono as this colour meant luxury and was expensive to produce. Then, people wore red as an undergarment and for lining the Kimono, which was usually hidden. I used a natural dyeing process using avocado, which produces the hidden colour, a red hue. ‘Hidden’ as a key word for me so some items in the embellishments, such as sequins and needlelace balls, have been hidden.

The possibility of hand embroidery is infinite. You have the opportunity to fulfill all of your creative ambitions at the RSN.  You can not only learn technical stitches, but also fashion drawing, design with photoshop, working with 3D, and more. These skills enable you to apply hand embroidery in wider areas, not only fashion and interiors, but also less common fields. You might even combine hand embroidery with new technology.

And it doesn’t matter if you have embroidery skills or not when you begin.  Even if there are techniques which you are not good at, don’t worry!  You will hone your skills in being able to adapt a technique through the course although you may not realise. You never know what will happen!”

You can follow Hisae on her Instagram page.


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