Friday, 29 June 2012

Japanese Art at Hanbury Hall


We don't normally review art exhibitions here at the Passengers in Time blog but there's a first time for everything. Last week we made our first visit to Hanbury Hall, a beautiful 18th century country house near the town of Droitwich Spa in Worcestershire. Hanbury Hall, built in 1701, is owned by the National Trust. The house is surrounded by 20 acres of recreated early 18th-century gardens and 400 acres of park land, and I felt like a character from a Henry Fielding novel as I explored the dairy and the icehouse, and admired the fruit garden, the orchard and the orangery. It must have been quite something, in the 18th century, to be able to enjoy home-grown oranges and lemons in the winter and chilled drinks and desserts in the summer. But, as if Hanbury Hall and its grounds were not delightful enough, we were pleasantly surprised on our visit to happen upon a free exhibition by Japanese artist Takumasa Ono. 

Takumasa (or Tak, as he is known) first visited the UK in 1999 when, as an Official Artist for the Association of National Trusts in Japan, he toured National Trust properties, producing art works to be exhibited in Japan. He decided to settle in the UK in 2002 and, since then, has been holding yearly 'Henro' (pilgrimage) exhibitions of his works at National Trust properties. Tak produces mainly watercolours, silkscreen prints and Sumi-e (a traditional form of Japanese brushwork). While I'm certainly no art connoisseur , I found Tak’s exhibition full of strikingly original and vibrant works. The Henro 2012 exhibition is at Hanbury Hall until 12 July and can then be seen from 1 August to 2 September at Baddesley Clinton in Warwickshire. Many of Tak’s images (like the one above, which is a detail from his picture of Hanbury Hall) can be viewed here. For more details visit the National Trust's website.

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Tony Gillam is Senior Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing at the University of Wolverhampton and Visiting Lecturer at the University of Worcester. An award-winning mental health nurse, he is also a freelance writer and musician, has published numerous articles and is the author of 'Reflections on Community Psychiatric Nursing'.