April 13, 2024

A showcase of Japanese culture can be explored at Blackwell – the Arts and Crafts House, close to Windermere, where the exhibition The Lure of the Floating World: Japan and its enduring influence- running until October 10- examines the relationship between the British Arts and Crafts movement and Japanese designers and craftspeople following Japan’s opening up to the west in 1853.

Taking centre stage is a hand-embroidered 19th century kimono and obi sash, made from traditional chirimen crepe silk.

There is also a new family trail exploring the stories of creatures inspired by popular Japanese culture – mythical and mysterious yōkai which are little animals and spirits-designed in conjunction with manga and comic illustrator Inko Ai Takita.

Rarely seen traditional Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints from Blackwell’s collection are also on display, including masterpieces from Utagawa Kuniyoshi and Toyokoni III.

And Blackwell’s collection of Japanese and British 19th and 20th century ceramics also feature.

Until the end of September 2021, another Cumbria’s Living Heritage member, Rydal Mount, former home of poet William Wordsworth, is staging an exhibition of paintings by leading Japanese artist in the UK, Hideyuki Sobue.

Hideyuki, known for his unique brush-hatching technique, using Japanese sumi ink and acrylic and a skill inspired by the ‘disegno’ method employed by Florentine Renaissance artists, has created paintings featuring Wordsworth and Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley, one of the founders of the National Trust.

Marketing co-ordinator, Jeanette Edgar, said: “Other Japanese stories can be tracked down within the Cumbria’s Living Heritage membership. At Dalemain Mansion and Gardens near Penrith, Japanese Marmalade Awards have sprung out of the global success of the historic home’s UK-based Marmalade Awards.

“Mr Shingo Okada won the Japanese version, staged in Tokyo and Yawatahama in May 2021, with a blood-orange marmalade, which Dalemain hopes to be selling soon.

“At Levens Hall and Gardens, there is a chance to see a Red-Japanned George II bracket clock, in an ogee case and decorated with chinoiserie and a pagoda top. Venture out into the gardens and visitors can contrast the style of topiary in the world’s oldest topiary gardens, where over 100 precisely clipped trees resemble things such as Queen Elizabeth I and her maids, a toppling wedding cake and a huge umbrella, with the Japanese ‘cloud pruning’ style of topiary, in which all trees are shaped into cloud formations.”

Meanwhile, those who visit Muncaster castle and venture along the half-mile Georgian Terrace will find paths leading to various places, including the Japanese Gardens.

During summer the maples are in full glory, with camellia and bamboo planting adding to the Japanese flavour.


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