The first places which spring to mind when wanting to see a collection of Japanese artefacts in the UK may be museums or art galleries where many treasures related to Japan have been preserved. With the aid of current digital technology, cataloguing and displaying on a digital site is gradually becoming more common, making some objects available to the public even when they might not be physically exhibited at such institutions. However, it may not be well known that these are not the only places to appreciate Japan: palaces, castles, and manor houses – historical settings where Japanese art is naturally suited – can also provide an interesting insight into the unique heritage.
Thanks to the extensive research conducted by Yoshi Miki, Curatorial Consultant and Project Researcher at the National Museum of Japanese History, Japan, it has been rediscovered that those institutes outside conventional museums also have precious treasures from Japan. In this special talk (a follow-up to last year’s Up-Close and Personal: Curators’ Treasures event with five curators from various museums in England) we have opened our doors to a ‘keeper’ of palaces and castles in the UK. In addition, we have invited a specialist at a museum created from a private library collection in the Republic of Ireland. Together they will share their favourite treasures with you and help open our horizons to the new normal. Let’s see what they cherish!
About the speakers
(Moderator) Yoshi Miki, Curatorial Consultant, and Project Researcher of the National Museum of Japanese History, Sakura, oversees the UK project “Research and Use of overseas Japanese artefacts and documents", funded by the National Institute for the Humanities since 2011. He co-curated a special exhibition "KIZUNA Japan Wales Design" at the National Museum Wales in 2018. A new special exhibition at Durham University’s Oriental Museum "Monogatari" is scheduled to open in January 2022. He worked for Museums in the US, Canada, and Japan before he became a Head of Curatorial at Kyushu National Museum in 2002-2006. He lives in San Francisco.
Susanne Gronnow is Property Curator for the National Trust at Erddig, a country house in Wales. This country house museum was once home to the Yorke family whose treasured possessions not only came from Wales and the UK, but from further afield too. In 2018, selected Japanese collections from National Trust properties were displayed in KIZUNA: Japan Wales Design exhibition at the National Museum of Wales (Amgueddfa Cymru), including a 400 year old lacquered coffer described as the first ever Japanese object known to have come to Wales. Susanne has also worked for the National Trust at Chirk Castle and Powis Castle.
Rachel Peat is Assistant Curator of Non-European Works of Art at Royal Collection Trust. She is responsible for the research and display of 13,000 world cultures objects in the British Royal Collection, which are held by The Queen in trust for the nation. These include Japanese porcelain, lacquer, metalwork, arms and armour, folding screen paintings and embroideries acquired by members of the British Royal Family since the early seventeenth century, which today furnish 13 current and former royal residences. Rachel is editor of Japan: Courts and Culture (published May 2020), the first publication dedicated to Japanese material in the Royal Collection. She is the curator of an exhibition of the same name at The Queen's Gallery, Buckingham Palace, which will open in early 2022.
Mary Redfern is Curator of East Asian Collections at the Chester Beatty, Dublin. Mary previously worked with East Asian collections at the National Museum of Scotland and the Victoria and Albert Museum, completing her PhD at University of East Anglia in 2015 on the Meiji Emperor's tableware. Her publications include Art of Friendship: Japanese Surimono Prints and Tennō no dainingu hōru (Emperor's Dining Hall) written with Yamazaki Taisuke and Imaizumi Yoshiko. Most recently, she curated the exhibition Edo in Colour: Prints from Japan’s Metropolis, now open at the Chester Beatty.