Monday, May 16, 2011


Here are some more images taken from another trip to Asia Gallery. I really do love this store, its aisles are crammed with treasures. The owners are a husband and wife team, Paul and Dau who are welcoming and ready to impart information about the various artifacts and textiles in store.
Paul especially has a comprehensive understanding of where pieces originate from and also restores the wooden furniture himself with his own homemade wood restoring polish. His shopping trips several times a year to Japan, combined with his passion for preloved objects means he's keen to help you find something that is special whatever your budget.
Come see for yourself...

These Chinese jade necklaces for instance are $85NZ. Tell me, what you could get from a standard jewellery shop that has this much history and charm?

The incredible $5 dollar pile! That's right. Silk, wool, hand dyed, woven kimono and other textile treats... all preloved but this pile is always always picked over. Recently I have found several cream silk kimono, several cotton undergarments, and linen sheets for repurposing in my own works. $5! Its dangerous because you leave with a kimono or a dozen of them that you didn't even know you wanted until you saw this overflowing pile. So much fun is had rifling through it with my friends many times a year. These make great gifts too.

Rolls of silk, cotton, wool at reasonable prices. A metre of silk from generic stores retails around $30pm, whereas here you can purchase a decent sized roll for the same price. Remember these are vintage so there can be age spots and marks sometimes, but this adds to the charm. And more often than not, you can find pristine cloths too. It just depends on your personal taste. I love those that have been preloved, unpicked and ready to be used again, often patched and handsewn to form long strips.

I always scout amongst the cream silks because there are bargains to be had. Because my work requires smaller amounts, there are sometimes 1-2 metres of beautiful patterned cream silk for only $5. Asia Gallery is the kind of place that welcomes respectful rummaging. Dau diligently sorts through her stock, and is happy to help you find what you need or what alternatives may be had. For me, as a full time mum and new artist, my budget is pretty limited but they help me get the best value for my money.

Vintage cream silks, so dreamy and just waiting to be taken home. Many are from old silk kimono that have been unstitched, mended and are waiting to be made into new creations. I've loved my white on white work recently. It has a calming effect as I sit and stitch. I'll post soon on some slow handstitched cloths I've been working on. But for now, these images are here to whet your appetite.

The aisles are literally crammed with treasures and artifacts ranging from just a few dollars to thousands of dollars.

... like these Amulets.

The racks heave with their gorgeous burdens of vintage kimono, ranging from $30 to several hundred for the premium pieces. Its eye candy every where you look. My pulse literally races even while I'm still parking my car and I get almost a euphoric sense as I walk in and inhale the atmosphere and smell of wood polish. Not for me pristine stores, I'm happy to sit on the floor surrounded by beautiful textiles or run my hands through the button box looking for very old crude mother of pearl, ceramic and glass buttons.

A sample of a boro cloth, approx 2m x 2m, at $150! Outside of my budget but if I could, I would!
Its not denim. Its handspun hemp or linen, indigo dyed cloth that has been pieced, patched and handstitched. Go check out Sri Threads prices in the States to get an understanding of how well priced Paul's pieces are.

As an admirer of boro and other Japanese textiles, I have appreciated having Sri Thread's amazing research to fall back on as well as there amazing images and pieces for sale. We are very fortunate to have the same kind of store here in New Zealand, right in our own backyard and with an owner who's love for such things amounts to a store overflowing with textile goodness for the likes of myself and other discerning folk with similar passions.


Silk embroidered Obi, $5!
The $5 ceramics shelves. LOVE these and own quite a few. I've seen them featured recently in my favourite new design book by Sibella Courts "etcetera". I love the way she also uses old ethnic textiles, esp Japanese ones and old antiquities to style up her own home and also the various design sets she works on.

Design Sponge did an online article including many images of her amazing home and Design Files have a great review of her book including images. The book itself is a treasure with coarse brown paper, sheer vellum, stamped images and large full page images. Great for a visual person like me. Go check it out and then come purchase some of these amazing things at Asia Gallery. Styling at affordable prices for real people.

etcetera, Sibella's book review by Design Files website.

Sibella's home by Design Sponge website.

YES, $5!

Having meandered scrapbooking and specialist paper stores about ten years ago, I'm amazed that more people don't come here for their paper arts. Vintage school text books start at $5. The rice paper kimono wrapping papers are $2 each. Stencils for printing. And there's so much more.

I have a weakness for old wooden boxes, containers, small drawers, etc and was the lucky recipient of a very old sewing box from Asia Gallery last year for my birthday from my husband. Gold and diamonds couldn't have made this old girl happier. I thought I had written a post about my sewing box (I went to look for it on my blog to link it to here but couldn't find it, nada!). Facebook probably stole the limelight with it. I have been remiss and will post about my treasures soon.

I find a great many amazing scraps here in this aisle with lots of incredible relics scattered in here including silks, shibori dyed pieces, flags, little cotton shoes, etc. It's heaven for the artistic quilt makers and textile artists, especially if you appreciate preloved cloth. Pieces range from $1 upwards. Great for art and textile students too at these prices.

More $30 kimono.

Unusual cords and embellished cloth on the bolt!

And even more kimono.

Whew! If you're still reading, you deserve a cup of tea.

I found another review here (The Dreamstress). The shop is open most days but its best to ring and make sure if you're from out of town. I have loved introducing many of my friends and visiting international artists to the joys of Asia Gallery. As a proud Wellingtonian, I think Asia Gallery is a point of difference in our city. There is nothing else like it in New Zealand and indeed, there are very few places like it throughout the Western world. I'm very thankful for Paul's passion for Asian antiquities, and his desire to keep stock moving at reasonable prices. I'm grateful to Dau for her patience as I unroll and she rerolls cloth bundles and makes me green tea, offering me a gorgeous handhewn stool (that I covet everytime I see it) to take the weight off my feet as I spend many a happy hour poodling through the piles and listening to Paul tell me of his latest adventures.

I often think how blessed we are to have this unassuming little store down, almost hidden in small suburb in Wellington. I'm happy to blow my trumpet about its obvious delights even though it means sharing something that is very very special. I hope more people discover it and make a point of putting it on the map. Although it might mean I'll have to fight for my bits and pieces with more customers, it will also mean Paul can bring more product in and keep it moving for us all.

So if you're from here and didn't know it existed, if you're from out of town or overseas, and Wellington is on your itinerary, then please stop and pay Asia Gallery a visit, or let me know. I'm happy to do small tours of must-see places including antique and secondhand stores, vintage clothing warehouses, small and big art destinations, off the map sites of interest and wonderful beaches with smooth stones and tumbled glass. I do several road trips a year with friends and am happy to custom make one for others as well, exploring the region depending on what you want to see and experience.

I love my city and I love sharing it with others who want to get around it and see those things off the beaten track. I will be sharing a few other interesting destinations in upcoming posts as well as some of my recent works and links to a few favourite online sites.

Contact details for Asia Gallery:

23 Bay Road (down the alleyway)
Kilbirnie, Wellington
New Zealand

Phone/Fax: +64-4-387 3488

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