|Cardiff's National Museum is on Gorsedd Gardens Road|
In Cardiff with my mother and sister (Feb. 9th) I chose to (re)visit the Davies' Collection of French art—such good taste, those ladies had—as well as my favourite British art by the neo-romantics John Piper, Paul Nash, and company (Graham Sutherland, Ceri Richards, Stanley Spencer, Barbara Hepworth ...) They had a whole room full of David Jones' pieces, wonderful! It struck me how similar to the Canadian David Milne's his art was. We spent some time in a retrospective exhibition of paintings and photographs of the Queen as well which included an excellent portrait of her by Karsh.
|Welsh is easier to understand than Japanese|
|Entrance to the TNM beside Ueno Park|
The museum also had a large collection of Samurai armour. The Samurai were "strong and stoic," keeping their swords in lacquered scabbards. The "warrior class" of Japanese society in the old days played games like snap with painted scallop shells instead of cards, the shells kept in octagonal boxes. They played a so-called "Incense Game" requiring something like a chess board. They did play card games too; the cards were circular. Battledore and shuttlecock was a popular pastime and they also liked theatre with its Noh masks and elaborate costumes. In the permanent collection at the museum were many paintings of actors and "Beauties"––young women of the Pleasure District in their fashionable 18th century attire.
I saw some lovely watercolours by Hokusai and tiny, intricate ivory netuske as well as a large Map of All the Countries of the World, with Japan at the centre, of course, Australia featuring vaguely as part of Antarctica at the bottom.
I took a break for lunch, a tasty wonton soup served with tea for $10 in the peaceful museum restaurant outside the main building, then went to explore another floor of the museum, seeing lacquerware (an artform that dates back to 5000 BC!) with inlaid mother of pearl, iron sculptures of a snake, a lobster, and fish, of bronze quails and elephants that doubled as incense burners, and an ox. In the Edo period they loved collecting miniature objects: those Hina dolls that I mentioned in an earlier blogpost often had dolls-house furniture with tableware to match. Some of the dolls were made to nod their heads or dance in circles.
In the last gallery visitors were being encouraged to sit down and create their own design for a kimono. I did this too and was given a leaflet about the meaning of the patterns used on kimonos.
Near each museum (my blog is all about juxtapositions!) was a large public park, Bute Park and Ueno Park, respectively. The spring daffodils were starting to bloom in Cardiff; at the bottom of the hill near Ueno Station in Tokyo I walked past a lotus pond that had not yet sprung to life. I'd have to return in midsummer to see those flowers in bloom.