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December 2021 Message from the Executive Director

Last month the Sainsbury Institute marked two decades of researching Japanese arts and cultures from our home in the historic Cathedral Close in Norwich with an ‘open house’ event at our headquarters, and our first Third Thursday Lecture held on the University of East Anglia campus. President of the Royal Academy of Arts, Rebecca Salter, gave the 5th Robert Sainsbury Lecture, an opportunity to celebrate our links with the Sainsbury Centre, the Sainsbury Research Unit for the Arts of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, and the Faculty of arts and Humanities at the University of East Anglia. In this month’s e-bulletin we report on both of these events, which provided the opportunity to reflect on the past and look forward to the future, something many of us do with the end of another year approaching.

We also revisit some of our archaeological activities, focusing on research on the Jômon period undertaken by the Institute and our associated researchers. Readers will recall that 2021 was the year that saw 17 important Jômon sites in northern Japan being inscribed as UNESCO World Heritage.

We were very pleased to welcome the artist Leiko Ikemura and her partner Philipp von Matt back to Norwich to install her major work Usagi Kannon in the University Sculpture Park. The exhibition Leiko Ikemura: Usagi in Wonderland at the Sainsbury Centre closes at the end of this week, and it is possible to hear a new interview with the artist here.

The return to in-person events was one of the great pleasures of the year and it was wonderful to welcome friends back to our lectures in the autumn. I was fortunate to be able to attend the opening of the exhibition Hokusai: the Great Picture Book of Everything at the British Museum in September. The pandemic has subsequently once again caught up with us, however, and this month we return to an online format for Dr Alfred Haft’s talk about this excellent exhibition. After consulting widely on what works best we have decided to return online only for most of these talks, with an occasional in-person event from the University campus, where we can make use of the best technological solutions.

As the year draws to a close and the world is once again plunged into pandemic uncertainty by the Omicron variant of Covid-19 and we have seen the associated return of various restrictions. At least this year vaccination programmes are offering the strongest protection in Japan, the UK and many other parts of the world, and we look forward to their being available globally. 

Wherever you are, everyone at the Sainsbury Institute joins me in wishing you as merry a Christmas as you can manage, and a brighter New Year.

Professor Simon Kaner
Executive Director

e-Bulletin contents: