‘Reflections of Japan in East Yorkshire’ Exhibition 2021

I visited the ‘Reflections of Japan in East Yorkshire’ exhibition at the Treasure House Museum and Beverley Art Gallery in Beverley, East Yorkshire, last weekend. This exhibition, curated by Helena Cox, is part of the Japan Season of Culture in the United Kingdom and includes Jane Irisa’s fantastic collection of traditional Japanese toys alongside Rebecca Cross’ traditional and vintage kimono, gifts from the Japanese Imperial Court, ‘souvenirs and good-luck charms,… video presentations by Japanese exchange students from the University of Hull and Ochanomizu University, Tokyo’, and Japanese inspired traditional woodblock and lino prints of landscapes by Laura Boswell (East Riding Culture & Leisure, 2021). It’s on between 16th October 2021 to the 29th January 2022 at Beverley Art Gallery, Treasure House, Champney Road, Beverley HU17 8HE. Entry is free and there is no need to book.

I’ve always been a fan of both Japanese art and design and vintage toys so this exhibition was right up my street. Here are some images of the exhibition to give you a flavour if you were unable to visit…

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‘Reflections of Japan in East Yorkshire’ exhibition in the Treasure House Museum and Beverley Art Gallery, Beverley, East Yorkshire. October 2021.
A traditional doll from Jane Irisa’s collection. 2021.
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Girls’ Festival dolls from Michael Nagasaka’s Collection. ‘These festive 52 year old Hinamatsu Dolls… are styled in the court fashion of the Heian period (794 – 1185)…’ (‘Reflections of Japan in East Yorkshire’ Treasure House Museum and Beverley Art Gallery, 2021)

The collection of vintage and modern Kimono by Rebecca Cross was stunning…

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Kimono from Rebecca Cross’ collection, 2021.
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Kimonos from Rebecca Cross’ collection, 2021
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Kimonos from Rebecca Cross’ collection, 2021
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From the ‘Rebecca Cross’ collection. A set of hair pins to be used with festive kimono and in kimono styling competitions [and] a set of ‘omamori’ talismans and amulets from Shinto shrines.’ (‘Reflections of Japan in East Yorkshire’ Treasure House Museum and Beverley Art Gallery, 2021)

There was also a selection of printmaker Laura Boswell‘s recent linocut, woodblock and traditional Japanese woodblock prints. She has attended printmaking residencies in Japan to study traditional Japanese woodblock printing and this has greatly influenced her work. Her website is www.lauraboswell.co.uk

Top: ‘Open Sky’ by Laura Boswell. Linocut.
Bottom: ‘Kokedera Moss Temple, Kyoto’ by Laura Boswell. Japanese waterbased woodblock.
Top: Early Morning, Hillside by Laura Boswell. Combined lino and woodblock.
Bottom: Waterfall by Laura Boswell. Linocut.

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Some of Jane Irisa’s collection of traditional Japanese toys with artwork by Laura Boswell in the background in ‘Reflections of Japan in East Yorkshire’ exhibition in the Treasure House Museum and Beverley Art Gallery, Beverley, East Yorkshire. October 2021.
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Selection of traditional Japanese toys from Jane Irisa’s collection. 2021.
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‘AKASAKA NINGYO – clay whistles and toys from Nagasaki.’ From Jane Irisa’s traditional Japansese toy collection (‘Reflections of Japan in East Yorkshire’ Treasure House Museum and Beverley Art Gallery, 2021)
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‘MIHARU dolls – Hanamatsuri Girls’ Day festival dolls
Papier mâché dolls of the Emporer and Empress are used in displays to celebrate Girls’ Day (3rd March). Miharu dolls often represent geishas and scenes from everyday life. The style of dolls is called after the Miharu region in Japan where the technique originated.’ (‘Reflections of Japan in East Yorkshire’ Treasure House Museum and Beverley Art Gallery, 2021).
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Kokeshi dolls.
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Kokeshi dolls.
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‘TAUCHÎ – chickens on wheels. [Made from] papier mâché and wood.
Naha, Okinawa-ken. Made by Kokura Yasufumi. Collected 1980′ (‘Reflections of Japan in East Yorkshire’ Treasure House Museum and Beverley Art Gallery, 2021).
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‘Okinawa, the southern Ryûkyû Islands near China, only became part of Japan in 1879, and as with Miharu, the craft of papier mâché toys was introduced by the nobility to entertain their children. The unique culture of Okinawa is clearly expressed in these folk toys with typical designs [and] bright colours’ (‘Reflections of Japan in East Yorkshire’ Treasure House Museum and Beverley Art Gallery, 2021).
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‘TAUCHÎ – chickens on wheels’ (‘Reflections of Japan in East Yorkshire’ Treasure House Museum and Beverley Art Gallery, 2021).
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‘AKABEKO – Red Cow. A cow was said to have helped to build the temple Enzôji, Yanaizu, in the 9th century CE and refused to leave the precincts after the construction, becoming a symbol of Buddhist devotion. The toys are supposed to protect children from ill health, perhaps because of their lucky red colour. These akabeko are made from papier mâché [and] collected 1980s’ (‘Reflections of Japan in East Yorkshire’ Treasure House Museum and Beverley Art Gallery, 2021).
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‘TORA – A collection of Nodding Tigers’ (‘Reflections of Japan in East Yorkshire’ Treasure House Museum and Beverley Art Gallery, 2021).
‘TORA – A collection of Nodding Tigers’ (‘Reflections of Japan in East Yorkshire’ Treasure House Museum and Beverley Art Gallery, 2021).
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Tiny Toy Shop from Jane Irisa’s traditional Japanese toy collection. 2021

Jane Irisa talks more about the tiny toy shop, one of her favourite toys, in ”Reflections’ Exhibition sneak peak – Tiny Toyshop from Asakusa’ video below…

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Close up of one ‘Daruma Otoshi – Daruma wooden toys.’ From Jane Irisa’s traditional Japansese toy collection 2021
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‘Noborizaru – climbing monkey. This monkey is from Kyushu in the south of Japan. This toy is also suitable for the Boy’s Day festival on 5[th] May as there are seasonal irises on the banner. If you put the toy outdoors, a gentle breeze should lift the banner and the monkey will climb the pole. As with the daruma, the idea of the climbing monkey (7 times down, 8 times up) is a useful life lesson in perseverance for children.’ Hyûga Miyazaki-ken. Made of bamboo, papier mâché, paper and feather’ (‘Reflections of Japan in East Yorkshire’ Treasure House Museum and Beverley Art Gallery, 2021).

Well done to the curator Helena Cox, the collectors, Treasure House Museum and Beverley Art Gallery, and all those who contributed to this exhibition. I personally really enjoyed it.

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