Where manga-cute meets horror: Junko Mizuno

Junko MizunoCovent Garden is a home from home for me. There’s hardly a day goes by that I’m not down there for dance classes of one kind or another, or meeting up with friends for dinner. So when I heard that manga graphic novelist Junko Mizuno would be exhibiting at the Atomica Gallery in Short’s Gardens, it was the work of a moment to pop in to take a look. After all, the gallery is right next to my hairdressers. Continue reading

Hokusai’s Great Wave – a view from the souvenir shop

Hokusai Great Wave souvenir apron I was in the British Museum the other day (as I often am) and, as I was passing the shop in the great court, a shopping bag printed with Hokusai’s Great Wave caught my eye. It made me wonder about the perspective people get who don’t climb the stairs (or take the hidden lift) to the fifth floor to see the Japanese collection, but just come across images in the shop. So I went to see what else was on offer. And got a bit of a shock. Continue reading

A trip to Cambridge with the Japan Society

17th c illustrated scroll, Cambridge University Library Summer’s here, the sun’s shining and what better way to enjoy it than with a nice day out with the Japan Society? Yesterday I joined a small group of members on a trip to Cambridge for a look behind the scenes at the Japanese print collections at the Fitzwilliam Museum and the Japanese Department at Cambridge University Library, plus a stroll around the historic streets, and a delicious lunch at Fitzbillies. Continue reading

Puzzled by Tetsuya Noda at the British Museum

Tetsuya NodaThe British Museum keeps its permanent collection of Japanese art in rooms 92-94, up on the fifth floor at the back (access via the North stairs). It’s permanent in the sense that it’s not a limited-time special exhibition, but it’s not set in stone; it changes slowly, particularly with the passing of the seasons, so it’s always worth going back to see the latest offering. My friend Yannick, who works there as a volunteer tour guide, tips me off when there’s something new, and he’s the one who told me about the Tetsuya Noda exhibition.  Continue reading

Henry Sotheran Japanese Prints

Henry Southeran Japanese PrintsWhen we think of Japanese prints it’s usually ukiyo-e, traditional ‘floating world’ woodblock prints of actors and kimono-clad beauties, that come to mind. But Henry Sotheran’s current show of twentieth century Japanese prints includes not just traditionally-made woodblock prints of flowers and landscapes, but Studio Ghibli storyboards and hand drawn anime and manga cels as well. They’re for sale, and they’re pretty reasonably priced. Continue reading

Utamaro at Two Temple Place

Utamaro Chushingura

Two Temple Place is a gothic-revival mansion built by William Waldorf Astor in 1892. At the time Astor was the richest man in Europe and his architect, John Loughborough Pearson, one of the foremost neo-Gothic architects of the late nineteenth-century, was instructed to spare no expense. It’s only open to the public when there’s a special exhibition on, as there is at the moment – Discoveries, featuring works from ten Cambridge museums and galleries. Continue reading

Wood Engravings at the Bankside Gallery

Keisei Kobayashi - Eden 08B

Normally I wouldn’t write about an exhibition of the Society of Wood Engravers. Not because I don’t like them, but because they fail the test of this blog of having some sort of Japanese connection. But guess what? This year, for their annual exhibition at the Bankside Gallery, they’ve joined forces with the Kyoto Print Exhibition Executive Committee and included ten Japanese artists in their show. I found the contrast between the British and Japanese artists fascinating. Continue reading

Love in Japanese prints at the Fitzwilliam Museum

Tsukioka Yoshitoshi, Yûgao

The night of longing: Love and desire in Japanese Prints exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge is billed as complementing the shunga exhibition at the British Museum, but for my money this exhibition hits the mark that the BM’s shunga misses. Why? Because it ‘presents a more complex yearning that embraces love and the consequences of love, rather than simply desire and its gratification’, as the introduction to the exhibition says. In other words, it’s not concentrating on just one, erotic, aspect of love but exploring the full spectrum, and sharing some amazing works of art in the process. Continue reading

Shunga at the British Museum

Shunga at the British MuseumOkay, I confess – I saw the shunga exhibition at the British Museum weeks ago and I’ve been putting off writing about it. I expect you can guess why. On the one hand it’s a major exhibition of Japanese art in London -right up my street. On the other hand, it’s shunga – which translates literally as spring pictures but is in fact a euphemism for explicit erotic art. You see my problem. Continue reading

Let it snow, let it snow…but only in Cambridge

Ogata Gekko © The Fitzwilliam Museum, CambridgeI put off going to the Snow Country exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge until now (and you thought I was just slow off the mark! Shame on you) so as to get the full shivery effect of looking at snow in the depths of winter. And it worked. What with the amount of snow in the pictures and the chilly temperature of the room they’re displayed in you could practically see our breath forming ice crystals in the air by the time we left. But in a good way. Continue reading