Events Walthamstow

William Morris Gallery to hold UK’s ‘largest ever’ Japanese folk-craft exhibition

Art Without Heroes: Mingei will run from 23rd March to 22nd September

Hamada demonstrating in California 1953.
(Credit: Collections of the Crafts Study Centre, University for the Creative Arts)

Walthamstow’s William Morris Gallery is set to hold the ‘largest ever’ exhibition in the UK dedicated to Japanese folk-craft.

Launching on 23rd March and running until 22nd September, Art Without Heroes: Mingei will include ceramics, woodwork, paper, toys, textiles, photography and film all taken from private collections in the UK and Japan.

Coined by the Japanese philosopher and critic Yanagi Soetsu, ‘Mingei’, means the ‘art of the people’, and, as the William Morris Gallery says, the term ascribes cultural value and aesthetic purity to traditional craft objects.

The Mingei arts movement was spearheaded by Yanagi, and Japanese studio potter Hamada Shoji and British studio potter Bernard Leach. According to the William Morris Gallery, it proposed an “alternative to the rise of industrialism that accompanied the modernisation of Japanese society” in the 1920s and 1930s.

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Left: Storage jar (tsubo), stoneware with a brown ame glaze and white namako overglaze, Credit: National Museums Scotland
Right: “Shigoto-gi” Work Clothes. Late Edo to early Showa period, 1800s-1950s. Credit: Collection of
Chuzaburo Tanaka

The exhibition will be divided into three parts, with the first including 19-century craft objects the Mingei movement looked to for inspiration. The second part of the exhibition will focus on the origin and evolution of the Mingei movement during the 20th century, while the final section will consider its 21st-century iterations and modern re-interpretations of its core values.

Designed by Hayatsu Architects and graphic design studio Stinsensqueeze, the exhibition will be accompanied by a major new publication by Yale University Press edited by curator Roisin Inglesby.

Find out more here

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