Asia Gallery and Vintage Fabric Emporium is a fine craftwork house, specialising in artisan and handcrafted artwork of uncompromised design and attention to detail. Great pride is taken in presenting the time honoured tradition of folk-craft construction at the highest aesthetic level. Asia Gallery is redefining the standard and variety of vintage fabric and original antiques available in Auckland, with a welcoming experience for each and every customer. You will know that you have been part of something unique and special, having viewed the wide selection of handcrafted fabrics and objects.
Reminiscent of the ‘cave of wonders’ this shop is spectacular to behold. Whether it’s the colourful drapes of kimonos or the antique artefacts dotted around, this place can really take your breath away. We met the man behind the emporium and he explained to us where his passion for hand crafted objects originated. “I have a great deal of respect for people who create with their minds and hands working in harmony and stock my shop accordingly.”
Paul arrived in Japan in 1986, seeking to further his martial arts instruction and began the study of Zen Buddhism. In between vigorous training and language study, he visited temple gardens and soon found himself in a Japanese gardening apprenticeship. Along the way he began selling antiques and kimonos at temple markets, which soon progressed to a shop near Ginkakuji temple in Kyoto. Paul’s respect for the Japanese ethic of work and beauty grew as he began to understand how much time, intellect and skill was required to make an object that to the untrained eye, appeared simple and unadorned. A roll of kimono fabric for example, can take weeks of painstaking work to achieve the desired result. Producing a cabinet involves three different tradesmen, the resulting work capable of being functional for hundreds of years. Paul sums this up by saying, “Life is all about perception. Mass produced furniture, consisting of cheap wood and stapled plywood can cost thousands of dollars. An antique piece of artisan furniture that is handcrafted from solid wood sells for a third of that and will last for centuries if cared for properly.”
Paul’s extensive career as a craftsman has spanned many trades and professions. A particular highlight was his work on an entrance path for a teahouse, commissioned by the noted tea ceramic artist, Richard Milgrim. It was during a visit to said tea house that Sen Shoshitsu, the great tea master of the Urasenke tradition, was said to make a favourable comment of the craftsmanship.
Paul first started his business in Wellington in 2004. After twenty seven container shipments and nine happy years he decided to relocate to Auckland. “Here I have more light to showcase some of the best fabrics and antiques obtainable in Japan.”
The surprising fact about this shop is not some oddity or wish granting monkey paw, it is the prices. The majority of the kimonos cost 25 dollars, with some selling for only 5 dollars. “My prices are is low partly because I travel to members-only kimono auctions for stock and partly because these are prices my customers find accessible.”
Paul is grateful for every customer and anyone interested in exquisite craftsmanship, “This has been a journey. I have had valuable support from the fabric and arts community in the past decade, and I must acknowledge that without my loyal customers support, I would not be here.”
Paul Rivers has completed many more renowned projects in Japan including:
Singlehandedly taking part in the renovation of the oldest house in Kyoto prefecture, using antique wood and stone in repairs. This is part of a centuries old, ongoing project to preserve the history of the building.
Paul also worked with Japanese cabinet makers and expert dealers to absorb as much as possible as about their trades and skills.
Carrying out the first major upgrade of the famed 300 year old farmhouse ‘Chiiori’ on Shikoku Island.
So if you are interested in genuine, hand crafted kimonos and antiques then check out Asia Gallery and Vintage Fabric Emporium.