I feel a bit guilty about this post. I try to write about exhibitions I’ve seen while they’re still on, so you’ve got a chance of going to them too. But just occasionally it doesn’t work out; exhibitions are short, I don’t get to them in time and they’ve closed before I tell you about them. This is one of those, and it’s really a shame as it was a lovely exhibition with lacquerware to die for, and what’s more you could buy it there and then. You see why I feel bad.
The exhibition was by Beauty of Japan and was at The Gallery in Cork St. Actually, its full name is 美 BEAUTY OF JAPAN, 美 being the Japanese word for beauty. It’s a new organisation introducing Japanese design via an e-commerce website and exhibitions in European countries. It has links with other Japanese collectives like Takumi and Rin Crossing, which I saw recently at Japanese lifestyle shop Wagumi. So there seems to be a bit of a Japanese craft invasion going on at the moment.
Kei Kimata of Japan at UK told me that it’s all building up to 2020 which will be the 1300th anniversary of the Nihon Shoki, the chronicles of Japan, a book of classical Japanese history. 2020 will also, of course, be the year of the Tokyo Olympics which I suspect might cause more of a stir.
In the meantime we have this showcase for a range of exhibitors, including Yamada Heiando, one of the most prestigious and long established lacquerware manufacturers in Japan, the official supplier to the Imperial Household.
And here’s the good news – the exhibition may be over but you can buy the wonderful things I saw from the Beauty of Japan website, sometimes at very reasonable prices.So what might you get?
Maybe these hand-painted caramel boxes, priced online at £43 each.
These lacquered salad servers are £69.
And these knife and fork rests, which are surprising light, are £65.
At the other end of the price scale are some real works of art, like these soup bowls which take three months to paint and are supplied to embassies and the Imperial Household Agency. A mere £2,333 the set.
Perhaps you might add this matching multi-tiered food box, designed for serving traditional osechi ryori on New Year’s Day.£2,333.
Or maybe this chequered box with a deep red interior, at £1,400.
Or this stunning box, decorated with mother-of-pearl plum blossoms. A not surprising £24,000.
This is actually a vase, decorated with gold and silver leaf cranes using the maki-e technique. £433.
This replica of the classic folding screen design of red and white plums can be hung like a picture.£433.
There was also a master craftsman, Ryoichi Tomiya, in residence, showing how lacquer decoration is done and offering visitors an opportunity to try it for themselves.
It wasn’t just lacquerware on show. I was also impressed with the ceramics of Ryota Aoki, who uses silver gold and platinum in his pieces.
There was diamond and lacquer jewellery from Okurado, who make the imperial family’s tiaras.
And innovative lighting from tangent, winner of the first Lexus Design Award. The slim lights in my Takumi post are theirs, and they were also showing these bubbling light-pots.
So pop over to the Beauty of Japan website and get your credit card out!