Exhibition: At Home In Japan @ Geffrye Museum

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 137 months ago
Exhibition: At Home In Japan @ Geffrye Museum

A collection of lucky owls displayed in an entrance hall in an urban home in Osaka, Japan (c) Susan Andrews
View from a living room onto a domestic garden in Nara, Japan (c) Susan Andrews
The inside of a closet showing tableware in an urban home in Osaka, Japan (c) Susan Andrews

The Geffrye Museum's new exhibition could not be more timely. After thousands of homes were smashed into matchsticks in north-east Japan, here is an opportunity to take a peek into these fragile, intentionally short-lived, homes and get a feel for the way of life the tsunami swept away.

Based on research by Dr Inge Daniels into homes around Kyoto, Kobe, Nara and Osaka, and photography by London Metropolitan University's Susan Andrews, the museum has recreated a typical Japanese home. Traditional and modern clash behind closed doors just as much as they do in wider Japanese culture — tatami mats and shrines to dead relatives sit alongside the fabled and terrifying multi-functional toilet.

Japan has a strange ability to disconcert. There's so much that's familiar, and then you're brought up short by something completely out of the Western experience. This exhibition captures a little of that — our personal 'woah' moment came on recognising the Ikea drawers we keep our sweaters in standing next to a kimono cupboard. You're encouraged to handle all the objects and knick-knacks and all the smaller items will be raffled off after the exhibition closes, which is excellent.

There are a number of events linked to the exhibition, including a curator-led talk and demo of Japanese food and customs on 18 May (5.45pm, £6), an Ikebana flower-arranging workshop on 2 April (1.30pm, £30), and opportunities for kids to make origami (2 April, 2pm), Japanese sweets (7 May, 2pm) and decorate fans (4 June, 10.30am / 2pm) — all for free!

At Home in Japan - Beyond the Minimal House runs until 29 August at the Geffrye Museum, Kingsland Road E2, tickets £5 / £3. All images by Susan Andrews. We saw this exhibition at a private view.

Last Updated 24 March 2011