Shibusa: extracting beauty

Monty Adkins and Pip Dickens

Cost: £20


ISBN: 9781862181014


Subject area: Music

Published: March 2013

Dimensions: 28 x 21 x 1 cm

Pages: 97 pages

Publisher: University of Huddersfield Press

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Shibusa – Extracting Beauty celebrates a number of artistic endeavours: music, painting and the skill of making in general with particular reflection upon Japanese aesthetics.

Composer, Monty Adkins and visual artist, Pip Dickens (through a Leverhulme Trust Award collaboration) investigate commonality and difference between the visual arts and music exploring aspects of rhythm, pattern, colour and vibration as well as outlining processes utilised to evolve new works within these practices.

The hand-cut paper Katagami stencil: a beautiful utilitarian object once used to apply decoration on to Japanese kimonos, is used as a poignant symbol – the ‘hand-made machine’ - by Adkins and Dickens both within the production of paintings and sound compositions and as a thematic link throughout the book.

The book reviews examples of a number of contemporary artists and craftspeople and their individual approaches to ‘making things well’. It explores the balance between hand skills and technology within a work’s production with particular reference to Richard Sennett’s review of material culture in The Craftsman.

Shibusa – Extracting Beauty includes contributing essays by arts writer, Roy Exley, who examines convergence and crossover within the arts and an in-depth history, and review, of the kimono making industry by Kyoto designer, Makoto Mori.


Part One. Shibusa: a musician’s perspective
Chapter 1    Exploding stillness. Monty Adkins

Part Two. Shibusa: an artist’s perspective
Chapter 2    The katagami stencil: handmade machine. Pip Dickens
Chapter 3    Pattern, rhythm, vibration and colour. Pip Dickens
Chapter 4    Low tech and high tech: the tail should not wag the dog. Pip Dickens
Chapter 5    Smashed pianos and dysfunctional brushes. Pip Dickens

Part Three. Contextual writings
Chapter 6    Sharing of textures: crossovers in contemporary art. Roy Exley
Chapter 7     The craftsmen of Kyoto. Pip Dickens
Chapter 8    History and techniques of the kimono. Makoto Mori


Monty Adkins is a sound artist, performer and lecturer in digital music. He read music at Pembroke College, Cambridge, and is currently Professor of Electronic Music and head of research in the Department of Music at the University of Huddersfield. He has published articles on the aesthetics of digital music, painting and visual art, and has recorded five solo CDs of his sonic art.

Pip Dickens was the Leverhulme Trust Award Artist in Residence in the Department of Music at the University of Huddersfield, 2010–11. She has a Masters in Fine Art, Slade School of Fine Art (UCL). She was shortlisted for the NatWest Art Prize in 1997; was the recipient of the Jeremy Cubitt Prize (Slade School of Fine Art); won the Edna Lumb Art Travel Prize in 1995, where she undertook research in Iceland; was a nominee for the Jerwood Contemporary Painters in 2009; and was shortlisted for the Celeste Painting Prize in 2009. She is an independent professional artist.


"This is a fascinating book taking its title from the Japanese concept that revolves around the skilful blending of restraint and spontaneity. Shibusa has a refinement that gives spiritual joy.
This series of 8 essays, grouped into 3 parts, will appeal to both the specialist and the generalist reader. The artist partners explore the language of art and the relationship it has with this quintessential Japanese concept using the 7 attributes defined by Yanagi Setsu".

Margaret Waring, Textile Society News