Modern Japanese lacquer shines in Cork St

Lacquer screen and sake setI 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. Continue reading

Lacquer at the V&A

Lacquer cabinet at V&A

It’s all very well, rushing around town as I do to discover new and sometimes fleeting exhibitions, but it occurred to me recently that all this activity has led me to overlook the treasures that reside in the permanent collections of the museums and galleries that make London such a wonderful place to be. So I’ve decided to do an occasional series focusing on the objects you can see for free anytime you want – starting with the Japan gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum and its fabulous collection of lacquer. Continue reading

Kintsugi lacquer repair – when broken is better than new

Kintsugi lacquer repair

Kintsugi is the Japanese art of mending pots. Not mending them in the way you’d imagine – so you can’t see they were ever broken. No, it’s mending them in a way that makes a feature of their brokenness, celebrates and enhances it, so that the broken and mended piece becomes more beautiful and valuable than before. It turns our ideas about the meaning of damage and imperfection on their heads. I’ve just been to see a kintsugi artist in action. Continue reading

Maki-e – Gold sprinkled on lacquer

Shokan Matsuda maki-e bowl

Shokan Matsuda, master of maki-e (decorated lacquerware, made by sprinkling wet lacquer with metallic powder, usually gold or silver), and his pupils have to come to the UK, with an exhibition of their work at Chelsea College of Art and Design and a series of workshops where you can learn to make maki-e too. I’ve been to the exhibition and also visited one of their first workshops, at the V&A, so I can tell you just what to expect if you sign up. Continue reading

Lacquer, Japanning and Eileen Gray – the new furniture gallery at the V&A

Lacquer and mother-of-pearl cofferI’m not usually quick off the mark, so left to myself I probably wouldn’t have got around to the new Dr Susan Weber Furniture Gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum before the spring, but Yannick rushed off to see it virtually as soon as it opened so I tagged along. And found it much more interesting than I expected.  Continue reading