Hitomi Hosono – the ceramic intricacy of plants

Hitomi Hosono I’m a big fan of Hitomi Hosono, the ceramicist whose modern take on a Jomon pot has been acquired by the British Museum and is currently on display in their Japanese Gallery.  So I was excited to hear she had been selected as one of the artists in this year’s Jerwood Makers Open, which recognises rising stars in the world of applied arts and supports them with open commissions. The result of this in Hosono’s case is seven beautiful porcelain pots in shades of yellow, emerald green and coral. Continue reading

Tattoo Art at Somerset House

Kazuaki ‘Horitomo’ KitamuraLet’s get one thing clear to start with – the artworks in Tattoo Art aren’t tattoos. They’re works in other media by artists who normally specialise in tattooing. It’s a very mixed bag, and some of the works were pretty horrible (deliberately so), but there were others which definitely earned their place on the Somerset House Embankment Gallery walls.  Continue reading

The Japanese Landscape at Kew – the definitive tour

Kew Gardens Japanese Landscape It’s all too easy to visit gardens without knowing much about them and come away still knowing very little. That’s what I’ve often done with the Japanese landscape garden at Kew. But not any more; thanks to a tour led by one of Kew’s specialist horticulturists, I’ve learned a massive amount and I’m going to share it with you now. It’s the expert’s guide, straight from the horse’s mouth.  Continue reading

Masaki Yada brings you Old Masters with a modern twist

Masaki Yada When I heard there was an exhibition on near Sloane Square of paintings by a Japanese artist who said his main influences were the Dutch and Flemish Masters of the 17th century, I have to admit I was intrigued to see what he would produce. What Yannick and I found when we went to take a look was not a slavish imitation, but an interesting use of old techniques for new purposes. Continue reading

Love is in the air – Tanabata on the South Bank

Tanabata decorations, South BankDown on the South Bank they’re having a festival of love that’s going on all through July and August, with free events, themed weekends, performances, poetry, talks, pop-ups, installations and artworks. Including, courtesy of the Embassy of Japan and the Japan Society, a celebration of Tanabata, the Japanese festival of love, which falls on the seventh day of the seventh month, and a display of fukinagashi decorations. I’ve been down to the Festival Hall to take a look. Continue reading

The Fukushima Garden two years on

Holland Park Fukushima Garden When I started this blog two years ago, the first actual event I wrote about was the opening of the Fukushima Garden in Holland Park on 24th July 2012. The garden was created as an expression of gratitude from Japan for the support British people had given following the tsunami in March 2011. It’s designed as a place for quiet contemplation, a peaceful contrast to the adjoining and better-known Kyoto Garden. The signboard on the entry gate has weathered now, but what else has changed? Continue reading

Style tips for the Bertie Woosters of old Japan

British Museum Dressing to Impress We’re so used to seeing netsuke (tiny ivory and wood carvings) reverently displayed in museums, it’s easy to forget that they’re actually fashion accessories, as important to the Bertie Woosters of old Edo as a Rolex is to their equivalents today. Or as a cigarette case and lighter was to Bertie and his chums at the Drones club before we found out that smoking kills. But now there’s a new mini-exhibition in Room 3 at the British Museum titled Dressing to Impress to bring us up to speed with samurai fashion. Continue reading

Delirious Metropolis – Toru Ishii’s modern vision of hell

Toru IshiiI’ve just been to see Toru Ishii’s first solo exhibition in the UK, Delirious Metropolis, at the Daiwa Foundation. It’s a small show, just ten pictures in all, but the level of detail and excitement crammed into each one is remarkable. Even more remarkable is Ishii’s technique – these aren’t paintings, they’re Yuzen dying on silk.  Continue reading

Fukushima Kimonos at UCL – Clay becomes Cloth (well, almost) 

Yuko Yamaguchi - Fukushima kimonos The University College London Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction Annual Conference is not the first place you’d think to look for Japanese art, but for two days last week the conference offered a rare opportunity to see Yuki Yamaguchi’s Fukushima kimonos, in the South Cloisters at UCL. When I arrived the conference tea break was in full swing, and I had to dodge between the participants to get a look at the artworks. They were fascinating (the kimonos, not the participants) – made, not of cloth, but of ceramic tiles. Continue reading

Silence and mist – Tadao Ando’s mystic Mayfair fountain

Tadao Ando - Silence Where did you go for Open Garden Squares Weekend? I joined a walking tour of Mayfair led by my friend Yannick, London Tour Guide extraordinaire. And, in amongst the garden squares, he included this remarkable fountain. It’s by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, it’s outside the Connaught Hotel and it’s probably one of London’s best-kept secrets. Bet you’ve never seen it! Continue reading