March 2023 Message from the Acting Director

The first signs of Spring can be seen in the gardens at the Sainsbury Institute this month.

At 64 The Close, the Daphnes are now in full bloom, while in Japan, this month sees the celebration of hinamatsuri on 3rd March. We have our own set of hinamatsuri dolls on display at the institute, once gifted to Lady Lisa Sainsbury in 2004 by Dr Handa as her birthday fell on hinamatsuri. This month will also see the start of hanami parties across Japan as the cherry blossoms begin to bloom. Readers may remember our own hanami party at The Close and University of East Anglia last year as we co-ordinated the donation of 30 cherry blossom trees throughout Norwich, gifted as part of the Sakura Cherry Tree Project – we look forward to seeing the first blossoms appear this month!

February was, as ever, a busy month for the Sainsbury Institute. Organised in collaboration with Royal Collection Trust, the conference Japan: Crosscurrents of Courtly Exchange took place across venues in London and Windsor Castle between 13-15 February, and included talks by Living National Treasure Murose Kazumi, and other prominent curators, art historians, and conservation specialists from the UK, Japan, and Europe. You can read a report on the conference here, and I would like to congratulate Professor Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere, as well as staff at Royal Collection Trust and Japan House London for bringing together what was a very stimulating few days of talks and discussions. Colleagues from the institute also took part in both the College Art Association conference and Association for Asian Studies online conference, and Professor Simon Kaner also took part in the Flame Pot Symposium in Niigata, Japan last weekend with over 300 attendees.

Living National Treasure, Murose Kazumi, delivered a talk and demonstration on the practice of urushi at Japan House London on Saturday 18 February.

Alongside various conferences, we also hosted our February Third Thursday Lecture with Dr Shilla Lee, our current Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellow at the institute. The talk explored the potters of Tamba Sasayama and the changing social practices that keep the tradition alive today. This was then followed by a lively Q&A with the audience, and we are very grateful to Shilla for providing such a thought-provoking talk. You can read a report on the talk in this issue from Iza Kavedžija, one of our Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Fellows from 2014-2015.

Looking forward to this month, Professor Simon Kaner will be giving a talk on Thursday 30th March on William Gowland, who brought his archaeological experience from Japan to the pioneering restoration work at Stonehenge in 1901. Professor Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere will also give a talk on Japanese Ceramics in the Collection of His Majesty King Charles III on Thursday 23rd March. We are also delighted to welcome Dr Mary Redfern (Chester Beatty Library, Dublin) to give our online March Third Thursday Lecture. The talk will examine how a surimono series from the early 19th century articulates wider messages of social identity and gender. We are now approaching our 250th Third Thursday Lecture which will take place in April – these lectures form a key part of our mission to promote the study of Japanese arts and visual cultures from the past to present. The format of the lectures has changed over the years, across different locations and formats following the pandemic, but the emphasis on making the study of Japanese arts and visual cultures accessible has remained the same. This represents over twenty years of free monthly lectures from experts across the field, and an impressive variety of speakers, specialisms and topics. We are committed to continuing to embed the founding principles of the Sainsbury Institute across our projects, events and outreach, and look forward to the next 250 lectures. May I extend my thanks to all our audience for their continued support and wish you all a pleasant start to Spring.

With very best wishes,

Dr Eugenia Bogdanova-Kummer
Acting Director

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