Classical and Contemporary Japanese Pottery

Japanese PotteyI’ve been wanting to visit the Harlequin Gallery, which deals in classical and contemporary studio pottery and ceramics, for a long time as they have an interesting collection of Japanese pottery for sale, but they exhibit in Central London only rarely. However, last week they had a brief show in Shepherd’s Market, so Yannick and I rushed down to see what was on offer. Continue reading

Gekiga: manga’s dark and brooding shadow

GekigaEver wondered how cartoon books moved from being simple entertainment for kids to being a leading 21st century art form? Well, it began with the manga movement in Japan in the 1950’s, led by the creative genius of Osamu Tezuka, the ‘God of Manga’, creator of Astro Boy, and Machiko Hasegawa, who created the massively popular cartoon character Sazae-san. But there was a darker strand of manga too, one that was born in the harsh days that followed the Japanese defeat in the Second World War, known as gekiga. The story of gekiga is told in an exhibition of original magazines at the Cartoon Museum in Bloomsbury. Continue reading

Junko O’Neill – Peaceful Portraits of Space

Junko O'Neill Shower of Rainbow 1It’s nearly two years since I first saw Junko O’Neill’s dreamy landscapes and abstracts so I was interested to see what has changed in her latest exhibition. Size, for one thing. ‘It was hard to store large canvases,’ she told me, laughing a little ruefully. ‘And my husband said “Can’t you paint something smaller?” Smaller is better for customers too.’ Not that her new work is tiny, but it will certainly fit your walls nicely. Continue reading

Hyper Japan does Christmas!

Hyper Japan plushiesHyper Japan is is the biggest show of Japanese goods and culture in the UK, and this year we’ve got an extra dose of it in the Hyper Japan Christmas Market at Kensington Olympia. (Not Earl’s Court like the main show – boy, am I glad I checked the location before I set out.) It’s got everything you expect from Hyper Japan – games, cosplay, sake, martial arts, J-pops and a whole lot more, including an incredible range of ideas for presents for the Japanophile in your life. Want to know what I picked? Read on. Continue reading

Lights, camera, action! Ippudo ramen hits town

Ippudo ramenIppudo is the latest ramen restaurant to open in London, as the ramen craze shows no sign of abating. Up until now we’ve mainly seen small, dedicated operations with a personal commitment to top class Hakata ramen, but Ippudo breaks new ground with a snazzy new 80-seat restaurant in the glitzy new glass skyscrapers of Central St Giles. So what’s it like? Continue reading

Carl Randall’s Hyperrealist Portraits

Carl Randall‘He’s not a Japanese artist, you know,’ said the girl at the Berloni Gallery when I gave her my Sequins and Cherry Blossom card. I know. But Carl Randall, winner of the 2012 BP Travel Award, is a former Daiwa Scholar who studied at the Tokyo University of the Arts and paints remarkable hyperrealistic yet subtly distorted portraits of Japanese people. So I wanted to see his latest work. Continue reading

Big, bold and sometimes noisy – Shinro Ohtake at the Parasol Unit

Shinro OhtakeThank goodness for long-run exhibitions! So often I’m racing to get to an exhibition and write about it in time for you to go as well if you feel like it before it closes. No such problem with Shinro Ohtake at the Parasol Unit, which is on for a whole two months. Luxury. Especially as you probably will want to go once I’ve told you about it.  Continue reading

Chrysanthemums – an East-West fusion art show

Print by William Say 1825 British Museum

Print by William Say 1825 British Museum

This week I’ve had chrysanthemums on my mind. Yes, I know it’s a bit late – they tend to flower in September or October, not November. But I have November fixed in my head because every year the Shinjuku Gyoen Botanical Gardens in Tokyo hold a chrysanthemum show, and it’s on now.  Continue reading

The Fiendish Innocence of Yoshitomo Nara

Yoshitomo NaraSometimes I like to go to art shows by myself and sometimes I like to go with other people. For the Yoshitomo Nara show at the Dairy Art Centre, it was a sociable outing with regular visitor to this blog Yannick and new Twitter friend Allie. Which means I can share their perspective on the show with you as well as mine – some interesting insights to come. Continue reading

A Japanese/English autumn garden in Regent’s Park

Regent's ParkOne of the things I love about London’s parks is the way they change with the changing seasons. Yes, I know, all gardens do, but there are little nooks and crannies in the parks where I’m continually surprised by how different they can look as the year passes. One of my favourites is the Japanese garden in Regent’s Park. I went down to have a look at it this week and found it enchanting. Continue reading