External News

29 August 2017

A one-day conference organised by Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture (MoDA), Middlesex University.

Venue: Asia House, 63 New Cavendish St, Marylebone, London, W1G 7LP, UK
Date: 10 April 2018

This conference forms part of MoDA's ongoing Arts Council England funded research project, Katagami in Practice: Japanese Stencils in the Art School. It aims to explore how Katagami (Japanese stencils used for printing kimono cloth), and other Japanese imports like them, might influence modern practices of craft and making, as well as how they influenced designers and makers of the nineteenth- and twentieth-centuries.

It is well established that the British craze for all things Japanese influenced countless artists, designers, and craftspeople in the late nineteenth-century. At this time, Japan opened up to trade with the West following a long period of isolation. This led to a huge appetite for 'Japanese' things amongst British consumers, who saw Japanese art and design as exciting and exotic. The Japonisme trend began as part of the Aesthetic movement, but by the 1880s, Japanese-inspired design ideas were regularly, and sometimes indiscriminately, incorporated into cheaper, mass-produced items.

This narrative has been widely accepted by historians, yet questions remain about the processes by which Japanese material culture was translated and transformed by Western designers. In other words, how were examples of Japanese objects such as textiles, stencils, or ceramics reinterpreted by Western designers and design educators? How were Japanese design methods and motifs negotiated by designers in the nineteenth-century, and how do present-day makers continue to mediate the conversation between East and West?

This conference aims to explore the intersection between Japanese art and design, and the Western designers who engaged and continue to engage with Japanese motifs and methods. Within art schools and design studios, nineteenth-century designers absorbed these influences, and reworked, reimagined, and reconfigured the techniques and patterns: but how was this process facilitated and understood? In order to engage with these questions, this conference intends to promote dialogue between historical enquiry and current practices of making by bringing together historians, art historians, and design historians with current makers, craftspeople, and artists. In doing so, the conference will explore the ways in which this cross-cultural material culture is not a static relic of a moment in design history, but rather that these objects continue to actively engage makers and researchers today.

Call for Papers

We invite proposals for 20 minute papers to be presented at a conference on 10 April 2018. We are also open to exciting alternative formats, and invite you to get in touch to discuss your ideas.

We are particularly interested in receiving submissions that discuss Katagami stencils, but we welcome papers, which explore the cross-cultural translation of Japanese art and material culture more broadly.

We are keen to include speakers who bring a historical perspective, and who are able to provide insight into current creative practice.

The CFP deadline is 30 October 2017. Please visit the conference website for further details.


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