Magnificent Obsessions at the Barbican

Magnificent ObsessionsMagnificent Obsessions, the new exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery, turns our usual idea of the relationship of artist and collector on its head. Normally, artists produce art and collectors collect it. But what do artists themselves collect? A very varied range of things is the answer, as the Barbican sets out to show us. Continue reading

Edmund de Waal at the Turner Contemporary, Margate

Edmund de WaalI cover Edmund de Waal’s exhibitions on the blog whenever I can – I love his ceramics – and his strong association with Japan through his family netsuke collection and his training as a potter qualifies him for a blog about art (and other things) with a Japanese connection. Though I’m stretching things a little as his current exhibition isn’t in London but at the Turner Contemporary in Margate. Still, it’s day trip-able from London so do what I did and get down there for a look – you won’t be disappointed. Continue reading

Edmund de Waal at the Fitzwilliam Museum

Edmund de Waal, a thousand hours

The Edmund de Waal exhibition at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge is subtitled On white; Porcelain Stories from the Fitzwilliam and de Waal fans need to note that because it’s not an exhibition of de Waal’s works; it’s a re-curation by de Waal of four of the ceramic galleries at the museum with two large-scale ‘interventions’ (works) by him, one of which we’ve seen before and one which has been specially commissioned for the Fitzwilliam’s Chinese Gallery. Is it worth a day trip? I went with a couple of friends and we all absolutely loved it. Continue reading

Edmund de Waal’s actual Hare with Amber Eyes

Hare with amber eyes

Photograph: Martin Argles/Guardian

If you’ve read Edmund de Waal’s wonderful book, The Hare with Amber Eyes, you’ll know it’s the story of a collection of netsuke owned by his family which miraculously survived through the wars and turbulence of the 20th century. The hare was his favourite of the collection – and now you have a chance to see the actual hare netsuke at the In a Nutshell exhibition at the Japanese Embassy. Continue reading

Back to the day job – Edmund de Waal at Alan Cristea

Edmund de Waal potteryNowadays nearly everyone has heard of Edmund de Waal, the author of The Hare with Amber Eyes, mega-selling winner of the  Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje prize and the Costa Biography Award. The book is a fascinating account of the lavish lifestyle of his rich and cultivated family in Paris and Vienna and its destruction by the Nazis, told through the story of the survival of their collection of netsuke (tiny ivory Japanese sculptures). But writing is actually a bit of a sideline for de Waal who has never given up his day job as a potter. An exhibition of his recent work has just opened at the Alan Cristea Gallery so I went along to take a look. Continue reading