Exhibition of East Asian craft and design from imperial to modern minimalism

Manchester Art Gallery is set to host an exhibition focussing on East Asian craft and design this spring, combining historic pieces from the Art Gallery’s collection with some of today’s most exciting international contemporary design.

The Eastern Exchanges: East Asian Craft and Design exhibition will incorporate everything from imperial treasures to modern minimalist furniture, as well as ceramics, metalwork, lacquer and textiles from Japan, China and Korea.

The Art Gallery, which welcomes over half a million visitors each year, will look at three central themes – Distinctively Eastern, East Meets West and Future East.

Distinctively Eastern:
This theme is set to explore the strong regional identity within East Asian craft and the use of local materials such as porcelain, lacquer, jade, bronze and silk.  Supported by imperial patronage, designs were influenced by Buddhism and Daoist philosophy, with highlights of the exhibition to include a luxurious lacquered norimono (Japanese chair), Chinese Imperial robes and Japanese hand-chiselled iron sword guards.  This is set to be the first time in over 30 years that some exhibits will have been seen publicly.  Contemporary highlights will also include Danful Yang’s Girly Series a set of kitsch renderings of Chinese mythological creatures made from blac-de-chine.

East Meets West:
East Meets West, the second central theme of the exhibition, will showcase the cultural exchange of skills and styles between the East and the West through trade and travel, beginning with the trend for Chinese styles in Europe from the 17th century, followed by the craze for Japanese design.  Highlights are set to include works by Christopher Dresser, the first European designer commissioned to visit Japan in 1876, whilst contemporary artists featured include British ceramicist Felicity Aylieff.  Works from the 200 year old family-owned craft workshop Gyokusendo will also be displayed, and Korean craft will also be exhibited with Jungwon Park’s Transformational Hybrid series of ceramics, a complex college of Korean and Western decorative elements and techniques, will also be on display.

Future East:
The third theme of Eastern Exchanges: East Asian Craft and Design is Future East.  This theme will showcase contemporary artists whose work demonstrates new directions in craft and design, whilst still based on the cornerstones of East Asian craft.  Fumio Enomoto’s Weave Stool will also be displayed, having been specially commissioned for this exhibition.

Maria Balshaw, Director of Manchester City Galleries and the Whitworth Art Gallery, said: ‘Manchester’s great 19th century industrialists pioneered business links with the East and collected some incredible works of art on their travels. We’ve mixed them with wonderful historic and contemporary international pieces to illustrate why East Asian design has been admired and imitated for centuries.’

Eastern Exchanges: East Asian Craft and Design will be hosted at Manchester Art Gallery from 2nd April until 31st May 2015, open daily 10am-5pm and Thursdays 10am-9pm.


Pictured: Jim Eui Kim, Tall Vase , Miochin family, Yauko Sakurai, Orb, 2013, Miochin Family,  Articulated dragon , 1870

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