By Nancy Broadbent Casserley
Published by Royal Botanic Gardens
Washi, or handmade Japanese paper, has long held a central role in the domestic, spiritual and cultural life of Japan. Its aesthetic of simplicity, purity and tranquillity mirrors fundamental aspects of Japanese culture itself. At the same time, the striking diversity of washi – ranging from a white sheet of kōzo so thin that you can read through it to a gilded, imitation-leather sheet used for bookbinding – highlights the creativity, skill and rigour that underpins this 1400-year-old Japanese craft.
Washi: The Art of Japanese Paper celebrates both the rich history of washi and the stunning variety that exists within the washi universe. The book features images and descriptions of over one hundred pieces from two collections: the portion of the nineteenth century Parkes Collection held in the Economic Botany Collection at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and the twenty-first century Washi: The Soul of Japan collection. The images are presented in the book within the context of the history of washi in general and the history of the two collections in particular, with explanations of the techniques used to create each piece.
A set of the 12-volume washi compendium published in Japan in 2011 by the Washi: The Soul of Japan committee was available for viewing on the evening.
Read a review of this book with images by Sir Hugh Cortazzi: Download
About the contributors
Nancy Broadbent Casserley
Nancy Broadbent Casserley is an independent scholar and curator in the field of the History of Design. She graduated from Princeton University with a degree in Art History, received a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law and after a career in law in the US received an MA in the History of Design from the Royal College of Art. She is a research fellow at the Sainsbury Institute for the Study of Japanese Arts and Cultures in Norwich, UK and is the curator of the exhibition Washi: The Art of Japanese Paper which is being held at the Gallery at Norwich University of the Arts from 12 March to 20 April 2013.