Ambassador Hayashi opens new exhibition

We were honoured to welcome Ambassador Hayashi, the Japanese Ambassador to the UK to the museum to open our new exhibition Shōji Hamada: A Japanese Potter in Ditchling last month.

Ambassador Hayashi

The Ambassador was given a tour of the exhibition by the museum’s Curator Donna Steele, and delivered a wonderful speech about the special connection shared by the village of Ditchling and Mashiko in Japan, the hometown of Shōji Hamada.

The exhibition marks Japanese master potter Shōji Hamada’s first visit to Ditchling with his friend Bernard Leach in 1921, and how this trip was to shape the course of the craft movement in Britain and Japan.

Shōji Hamada: A Japanese Potter in Ditchling captures a key moment in early 20th-century art and craft – a collaboration and consolidation between East and West, and the emergence of the studio pottery movement. It will bring together significant works from 5 public UK collections by Shōji Hamada, Bernard Leach, William Staite Murray, Martin Brothers, O Kenzan VI, Katharine Pleydell-Bouverie and many more eminent figures in both the Mingei and studio pottery movements.

Letters between Bernard Leach and Ditchling weaver Ethel Mairet feature, evidencing long-standing respect for one another’s work, and connecting them with other key players in early 20th century modern craft and design. The exhibition evokes the atmosphere of Gospels, Mairet’s home and workshop, that Hamada so enjoyed; a magical marriage of contemporary ceramics and textiles interspersed with textiles from her historic international collection. Examples of weaving from Mairet’s travels to South Asia demonstrate the influence of the East on the Ditchling craft community.

Photographs: Rosie Powell