Toyo Hagino

1938 Japan, Shiga Prefecture

Toyo Hagino sews as if she works with chalk on paper. The lines rise and fall, randomly changing direction until they form remarkable shapes.


Hagino begins her sewing without preliminary sketches. She simply begins to sew, as if drawing with a crayon on paper. The lines rise and fall, turning at random and without restraint, until they form remarkable shapes. Slowly, one stitch at a time. She loves the comfort of time spent this way. If you ask what the subject of a work is, she may answer, “It’s a river,” or “It’s a flower,” depending on her whim.

She began embroidery at age 50. Residing in a facility for people with intellectual disabilities since childhood, her work there led her to the discovery of a world of free and unique expression using cloth and thread. Hagino’s art was included in a special exhibition of textile art at the Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne in 2007.

© Portrait: Satoshi Takaishi & Nobuo Onishi