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Aya Cagiu

Night Flight​

I have been exploring the possibilities of artistic expression through embroidery. The process is like a journey of flight in the dark, collecting one faint flicker of light after another. - Aya Cagiu


We are pleased to present Aya Cagiu’s solo exhibition ‘Night Flight’ at MEGUMI OGITA GALLERY. Cagiu graduated from the Department of Sculpture at Tama Art University in 2001 and has continued to create embroidery ever since. Cagiu has been searching for a unique expression that would give embroidery, which is often seen as a craft, a work of art. In recent years Cagiu has established herself as a contemporary artist, exhibiting her works at Takamatsu Art Museum and Yokosuka Museum of Art, and a group exhibition tour in Japan ‘In the Genes, Taking Marvelous Meiji Craftsmanship into the Future’ (the Mitsui Memorial Museum, Tokyo, until November 26) that started in 2023.


Since ancient times, embroidery has been passed down as a symbol of ‘prayer’, an amulet or talisman for the family, community or individual. In Japan, the Tenjukoku Shucho Mandala (622), produced in the Asuka period to mourn the death of Prince Shotoku, is the oldest known example. As seen in cave murals and tombs, painting and decoration were necessary to live with nature. However, in the age of mass production, embroidery as a means of pure prayer was utterly transformed. By returning to the act of prayer, which is the beginning of embroidery, and by sewing each piece with a wish in mind, Cagiu asks us what should be in our time.

When she was a third-year university student, she visited Nara and Kyoto as part of her study of classical art and saw a scroll of embroidered Buddhas. Around that time, on a trip to a small museum in Turkey, she became fascinated by the folk and traditional embroidery. She bought a needle and thread there and sewed a snail into her backpack, which became her first piece of embroidery and the origin of artist's name. Inspired by the cities and ruins she visits, the stones, shells and fallen leaves she finds, Cagiu combines her feelings for things that take shape over time and the process of embroidery, which also requires much time. Whilst cultivating a poetic imagination and sensitivity, she embodies in her work the spirit of learning from nature, which has continued in Japan for centuries.


In this exhibition, 23 works will be on display as Cagiu's new expressive challenge of embroidery, including works on brass frames to show the softness and weakness of fabric as a charm, and works where the other side can be seen through, such as ‘Self-portrait’ and ‘Breathe in light’, which represent the culmination of her creative activities. We hope you enjoy her tranquil and profound world, full of archaeological romance.


September 22-October 9, 2023

Noon-6 PM 

Closed on Sunday, Monday and September 23


2-16-12 B1 Ginza Chuo-ku Tokyo 104-0061 Japan

*You may be asked to wait for admission when the gallery is crowded in order to prevent infection with COVID-19.

The exhibition title ‘Night Flight’
The idea for this exhibition came to me when I visited the Museum of The Little Prince in Hakone, Japan. I felt that what he had sought in flight and what I was seeking in creation had something in common, so I borrowed the title of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's book with all due respect.




42 x 31 x 1.5 cm

Silk embroidery on dyed silk cloth, brass (framed)

Photo: Masashi Kuma

Fabrics and threads are the softest of a variety of materials, including stone, metal, wood and paper. Threads go between the front and back of the fabric to shape embroidery. The challenge for me was to create something that showed its weakness and characteristics. The fluttering of the fallen leaves overlapped with the light fabric and the titles came to me, so I made them into works afterwards. 
In ‘Musician’ you can see the score of Johann Sebastian Bach's Invention No. 1, and in ‘Poet’ the poem ‘Boku ga koko ni’ by Michio Mado is stitched on the lower layer of the embroidery.
As a child, I was fascinated by books, particularly foreign literature for children. The source of my ideas come from the things and landscapes I encountered in my imaginary world back then.



27.5 × 22 × 2 cm

Silk embroidery on dyed silk cloth

Photo: Masashi Kuma

I kept looking at the shell, which was partly chipped and scraped by the waves, and thought it looked like the shape of a bird grooming its wing. The staircase-like part looks like the ancient ruins, and the mossy cliffs are covered with violets. This work is particularly made of a wish to believe in what I see and feel with my own eyes.

~1MB_94,王国,Kingdom, 27.jpg



22 × 27.5 × 2 cm

Silk embroidery on silk cloth

Photo: Masashi Kuma

The stone grains are like little pieces of stars, and the overall shape is like a planet in space. The long, long time in which the stone was formed seems to have the principle of origin of all things.



13.6 × 17 × 2 cm

Silk embroidery on silk cloth

Photo: Masashi Kuma

A stone with colours and patterns that looks as if water is gushing from within. I wanted to give form to its clear presence. Rather than trying to represent it realistically, I hope to bring out the story that the stone itself has got to tell.




17.5 × 14 × 1.5 cm

Silk embroidery on hemp cloth

Photo: Masashi Kuma


Unlike when I make figurative embroidery, these works are more direct, like drawings, and seem to show everything. Sewing whilst also looking at the threads that cross over to the back was a new experience for me, as I felt like I was making the both sides. I was actually hesitant about whether it might be too airy, but I gave priority to my feeling that it needed to be made at that time.



13 × 9.5 × 2 cm

Silk embroidery on silk cloth

Photo: Masashi Kuma

My previous works ‘Feather’ had been facing upwards, but when I placed them in the direction in which they originally grew, I realised that there was movement in the shape. It was also interesting to capture the reflections of the light, and I could imagine what kind of light the feathers flew through the sky.

~1MB_貝,Shell, 2023年, 15×20×2cm, Silk embroidery on silk cloth.jpg


15 x 20 x 2 cm
Silk embroidery on silk cloth
Photo: Masashi Kuma

The pinkish bivalve seems to be thinking of the other shell, and I had actually thought of the title ‘Love’ or ‘Unrequited Love', but I felt embarrassed and eventually decided on ‘Shell’.


15 x 20 x 2 cm
Silk embroidery on silk cloth
Photo: Masashi Kuma

I sometimes stitch butterflies because I think the shine of their scales and the lustre of silk are similar. I tried to represent the transparent wings of a butterfly by changing the direction of the threads.

~1MB_蝶,Butterfly,2023年,15×20×2cm, Silk embroidery on silk cloth.jpg

Embroidery as Prayer

I have been exploring the possibility of embroidery to ‘make wishes and stitch’ to create works that are with people. I create in the hope of seeing a single object and giving form to my imagination, and the scenery that lies beyond. When I thought about the overlap between the traditional embroidered Buddha, the Pure Land and my own works, I realised that such a time might be to ‘pray’ in the present.

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