Figures on a bridge with a larger bridge looming behind

Sheer Pleasure

Frank Brangwyn and the Art of Japan


4 February to 14 May 2017

  • Open Wednesday to Sunday, 10am - 5pm; free

"The work of Yoshijiro Urushibara ... sheds a gorgeous rare light on Europe. More than worth the trip to Walthamstow" ★★★★
Time Out top 10 museum exhibitions in London

In 2017 we mark the 150th anniversary of the artist Frank Brangwyn RA (1867-1956). Sheer Pleasure – Frank Brangwyn and the Art of Japan examines Brangwyn's love of Japanese art and his collaborative relationships with Japanese artists and patrons. Brangwyn donated his collection of Japanese prints and paintings to the Gallery. They have rarely been displayed and the exhibition includes highlights such as woodblock prints by Utagawa Hiroshige and Katsushika Hokusai and a carefully restored decorative screen.

During the 1910s, Brangwyn met the Japanese artist Yoshijiro Urushibara (1888-1953) in London. Their meeting led to a remarkable example of collaborative printmaking, combining the exuberant bravado of Brangwyn's designs with the subtle and distinctive techniques of Japanese printmaking. The exhibition explores the collaborative process with sketches, notes and key block prints, as well as displaying some of their most successful works, such as The Devil’s Bridge and the ambitious Bruges series. It also tells the story of Brangwyn’s relationship with his patron Kojiro Mutsakata, and their ill-fated plans to create an art gallery in Tokyo.

To complement the exhibition we have invited painter and printmaker Rebecca Salter RA to display her work in one of our first floor galleries. Having studied at Kyoto City University of the Arts, and having lived in Japan for six years, Salter studied the art of Japanese woodblock printing extensively. She creates prints in collaboration with the Sato Woodblock Workshop in Kyoto, one of just a few surviving in an industry in slow decline. Salter’s work offers scope to compare the complexities of collaboration between designer and maker, artist and patron, Britain and Japan.

Supported by the Decorative Arts Society Collection Access Grant 2016

What the critics are saying

"A remarkable creative collaboration"
Financial Times Critic's Choice

"A very rare chance to see [Brangwyn's] superlative collection of glorious Japanese prints"
The Times

"Sheer delight"
Homes & Antiques

"Utterly charming"
Evening Standard