Japan: a Land of Beautiful Things

6 January 2017

Japanese image

Cardiff academic switches Celtic capitals to deliver talk at national museum and gallery.

Lecturer in East Asian History Dr Ian Rapley swops Cardiff for Edinburgh for Japan: a Land of Beautiful Things, his public talk at the Scottish National Museum on 9 January.

Alongside A New Order featuring Kishio Suga, the free event investigates both Japan’s cultural impact and its perception at home and abroad.

Suga is a leading sculptor in the Mono-ha, or School of Things, a group of artists who have explored the relationships between ordinary and everyday materials. Dr Rapley’s talk is going to explore the history of Japanese material culture & objects, and their international reception.

Dr Rapley explains: “I’m intending to look at both how the West discovered and appreciated this aspect of Japanese society, but also how it has fed into Japan’s own self-image. Pottery illustrates this brilliantly.”

“Japanese pottery was particularly influential in the creation of the western craft pottery movement which started right here in Britain. The high regard for Japanese material culture has persisted throughout the twentieth century. More than that, it remains significant in Japanese ideas about its own culture and arts and its wider international reputation” adds the historian and amateur potter.

Teaching at undergraduate level, Dr Rapley is particularly interested in 20th century Japanese cultural and intellectual history and transnational movements, especially across Asia.

He was one of the Arts and Humanities Research Council International Placement Scheme Fellows in 2015, pursuing his research further at the National Institute for the Humanities' International Japanese Studies Research Centre (日文研) in Kyoto.

Japan: a Land of Beautiful Things takes place at the Scottish National Gallery in Edinburgh on 9 January. The talk is free, no advance booking is needed.

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