Perfect for hanami – Kensington Gardens cherry blossom

Hanami has reached us from Japan where pretty much the whole country turns out to picnic under the cherry blossom that marks the start of spring. Hanami (which literally means blossom viewing) is a perfect way to enjoy the good weather were having this year (2017), and for Easter weekend Kensington Gardens offers a perfect hanami spot. Continue reading

Gold and glass and Hello Kitty – the refurbished Toshiba Gallery of Japanese Art at the V&A

Kimono design V&AThe V&A have just reopened their refurbished Toshiba Gallery of Japanese Art so, as you would expect, Yannick and I rushed down to have a look. And guess what? We really liked it. It’s a lovely mixture of of over five hundred objects, both old favourites and new acquisitions, all displayed in a layout reminiscent of a traditional Japanese house. Continue reading

Colour and Patina – the Bronzes of Koji Hatakeyama

Koji HatakeyamaI’ve always though of bronze as, well, bronze-coloured. Not a colourful metal at all. But Koji Hatakeyama’s new exhibition at the Erskine Hall and Coe gallery has made me see bronze in a new light – or maybe a new set of colours.  Continue reading

Junko O’Neill – Peaceful Portraits of Space

Junko O'Neill Shower of Rainbow 1It’s nearly two years since I first saw Junko O’Neill’s dreamy landscapes and abstracts so I was interested to see what has changed in her latest exhibition. Size, for one thing. ‘It was hard to store large canvases,’ she told me, laughing a little ruefully. ‘And my husband said “Can’t you paint something smaller?” Smaller is better for customers too.’ Not that her new work is tiny, but it will certainly fit your walls nicely. Continue reading

A Japanese/English autumn garden in Regent’s Park

Regent's ParkOne of the things I love about London’s parks is the way they change with the changing seasons. Yes, I know, all gardens do, but there are little nooks and crannies in the parks where I’m continually surprised by how different they can look as the year passes. One of my favourites is the Japanese garden in Regent’s Park. I went down to have a look at it this week and found it enchanting. Continue reading

Happy Tanabata – again!

Tanabata at Kew GardensHappy Tanabata, for the second time this year. Tanabata again? What’s going on? Well, the Tanabata festival falls on the seventh day of the seventh month. So most places celebrate it on the seventh of July, like the Japan Society- led Tanabata festival on the South Bank that I wrote about before. But not all calendars are the same – by the lunar calendar August counts as the seventh month, so here we are celebrating Tanabata all over again. Continue reading

Tattoo Art at Somerset House

Kazuaki ‘Horitomo’ KitamuraLet’s get one thing clear to start with – the artworks in Tattoo Art aren’t tattoos. They’re works in other media by artists who normally specialise in tattooing. It’s a very mixed bag, and some of the works were pretty horrible (deliberately so), but there were others which definitely earned their place on the Somerset House Embankment Gallery walls.  Continue reading

Fukushima Kimonos at UCL – Clay becomes Cloth (well, almost) 

Yuko Yamaguchi - Fukushima kimonos The University College London Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction Annual Conference is not the first place you’d think to look for Japanese art, but for two days last week the conference offered a rare opportunity to see Yuki Yamaguchi’s Fukushima kimonos, in the South Cloisters at UCL. When I arrived the conference tea break was in full swing, and I had to dodge between the participants to get a look at the artworks. They were fascinating (the kimonos, not the participants) – made, not of cloth, but of ceramic tiles. Continue reading

Can you capture time in three dimensions?

Nobuhiro NakanishiNobuhiro Nakanishi’s current exhibition at the Kashya Hildebrand gallery is titled Reticulated Time. I looked up ‘reticulated’ in the dictionary; it means ‘constructed, arranged, or marked like a net or network’. I’m not sure whether that’s an accurate description of what these artworks are up to or not, but they certainly take a different approach to representation, using repeated sheets of perspex (I think) to give an impression of a series of impressions, if you see what I mean.   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