Ikebana: Living Flowers of Japan

5 July - 19 August 2007
Room 3 
Admission Free

Live flower arranging every week at the British Museum to accompany the special exhibition: Crafting Beauty in Modern Japan

Ikebana means ‘living flowers’. Flower arranging is considered an art in Japan and has played many significant roles in society since ancient times. Flowers are arranged for many different occasions: on a Buddhist altar, at public events, in special rooms for tea gatherings or in ordinary peoples homes. Styles may be grand and formal, or simple and informal. Seasonal flowers are carefully selected and combined with an eye to their colours and forms. The display combines natural beauty, skill and performance, in accordance with vibrant living traditions of Japan.

The challenge has been set to members of Ikebana International, the leading society of practitioners of Japanese flower arrangement, to make seven different floral displays in seven weeks, each in the same Fujiwara Yū jar. The arrangements will be changed each Thursday from 13.00 onwards. In addition to the central floral display, a brief history of ikebana will be presented using historical images from the British Museum’s collections.

Integral to the arrangement is the container in which the flowers are placed. And arrangements spread into the space around them, reaching out dynamically to the viewer. For this sequence of displays the British Museum is using a large jar made and donated by the ceramic artist Fujiwara Yū (1932-2001). Fujiwara worked in stoneware with natural ash glaze in the style of his native Bizen city, Okayama prefecture. Like his father Fujiwara Kei (1899-1983) before him, he was designated as a Living National Treasure by the Japanese government for his craft skills. A cylindrical vase in Bizen ware by Fujiwara Kei will be included in the British Museum’s special exhibition Crafting Beauty in Modern Japan (19 July – 21 October 2007). Many additional examples of Japanese art crafts, traditional and modern, can be seen in the permanent Japanese Galleries (Rooms 92-94).

For further information or images please contact Hannah Boulton on +44 (0) 20 7323 8522, hboulton@thebritishmuseum.ac.uk

or Katrina Whenham on +44 (0) 20 7323 8583, kwhenham@thebritishmuseum.ac.uk

Notes to Editors:

  • The list below details which members of Ikebana International will be responsible for each display.

Tineke Robertson, representing Enshū school (5 July )
Hansa Patel, representing Ikenobō school (12 July)
Ruth Sulke, representing Sōgetsu school (19 July)
Angela Sawano, representing Ōhara school (26 July)
Takashi Sawano, representing Kohdoh school (2 August)
Sumie Takahashi, representing Koryū school (9 August)
Tineke Robertson, representing Ichiyō school (16 August)

  • The Room 3 displays are generously supported by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper group. The Asahi Shimbun is the most prestigious newspaper in Japan, and was first published in 1879. The Asahi Shimbun has a long tradition of staging exhibitions in Japan of art, culture and history from around the world.