From gold to Godzilla – Japanese art on display in Durham library

Rachel Barclay, deputy curator Oriental Museum, at the Off the Wall exhibition at the Durham University Palace Green Library.
Rachel Barclay, deputy curator Oriental Museum, at the Off the Wall exhibition at the Durham University Palace Green Library.
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Exhibitions celebrating all things Japanese have launched at a Durham library.

The displays, held at Durham University’s Palace Green Library, promise everything from gold to Godzilla and all things in between.

The art and culture of Japan varies from the exquisite to the outrageous, the ceremonial to the unexpected and the ancient to the cutting edge – and the library aims to celebrate this diversity.

The Seven Treasures: Japanese Enamels from the V&A showcases beautiful cloisonné enamels from the 16th century though to the 20th Century.

Many of the enamels, provided by the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) were originally donated by Durham University graduate Edwin Davies.

They will be shown with objects from the university’s collections to present a complete picture of one of Japan’s most exquisite art forms.

The second exhibition, Off the Wall: the Art of the Japanese Movie Poster, will throw visitors into a world of gangsters, monsters and manga characters, celebrating Japan’s legendary film industry.

The exhibition features posters from the 1950s to the modern day collected by the Oriental Museum, Durham University with the support of the Art Fund and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

“Japanese film posters are as unique as Japanese films,” Off the Wall curator Rachel Grocke said. “The bold designs can sometimes be playful or comic, at other times impassioned or even disturbing.

“They reflect a distinctly Japanese design aesthetic and I hope visitors will have as much fun exploring this exhibition as we had creating it.”

Keith Bartlett, Durham University’s director of culture, added: “These exhibitions are a celebration of the rich diversity of Japanese culture.

“We are thrilled to have worked with the V&A to bring The Seven Treasures to Durham, and we are looking forward to welcoming Edwin Davies, who has generously supported this exhibition, back to his university library.”

The launch coincides with the opening of a new café and a specially-designed learning space for schools and community groups. The exhibitions will run until August 31.

Opening hours are Monday, noon to 5pm, and Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 5pm. Admission charges apply. Full details are available online at www.durham.ac.uk/palace.green