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

Style tips for the Bertie Woosters of old Japan

British Museum Dressing to Impress We’re so used to seeing netsuke (tiny ivory and wood carvings) reverently displayed in museums, it’s easy to forget that they’re actually fashion accessories, as important to the Bertie Woosters of old Edo as a Rolex is to their equivalents today. Or as a cigarette case and lighter was to Bertie and his chums at the Drones club before we found out that smoking kills. But now there’s a new mini-exhibition in Room 3 at the British Museum titled Dressing to Impress to bring us up to speed with samurai fashion. 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