It’s two years now since the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku in North East Japan claimed over 18,000 lives and left many more injured and homeless. The people of Tohoku are rebuilding their shattered lives and to help them, particularly the children, many of whom were left orphaned, graphic designers from the Japan Graphic Designers Association have collaborated with children in Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima to create beautiful handkerchiefs which are exhibited and sold to raise money for schools in the area. Some of the handkerchiefs are now on display in London.
The exhibition is titled Yasashii Hankachi which means Kind Handkerchiefs. Each handkerchief in the exhibition has been produced by a child working in collaboration with a graphic designer.
There is an astonishing range of ideas and approaches on show, from abstracts to the simplicity of a single word, hope.
The walls of the Daiwa gallery are lined with handkerchiefs, and folding screens in the middle of the rooms display more of them. Each one is printed on a 45x45cm square of cotton.
The project began in 2011 when JAGDA exhibited original handkerchiefs from its member designers. That exhibition, in Japan and overseas, raised enough money for them to give seven thousand handkerchiefs to Tohoku children.
The money raised by the sale of the handkerchiefs based on the children’s drawings goes back to them to use to help rebuild their own communities.
The current exhibition contains over three hundred handkerchiefs and has been seen in Japan and Singapore before coming to London.
The Daiwa Foundation is in Cornwall Terrace, near Baker St and the exhibition is on until 26th March. If you’d like to buy one of the handkerchiefs you can do so via JAGDA’s online shop.