Japan’s Dazaifu Tenmangu shrine, the 1,100-year-old site of Shinto worship in Fukuoka, has thousands of historic artifacts and antiques as part of their public art collection. But several years ago the shrine embarked on an ingenious program – spearheaded by a young priest – to host contemporary art shows within their historic walls. This summer, two Japanese artists heavily influenced by Finland, come together in a multidisciplinary exhibition of photographs and ceramics.
Nao Tsuda is a nature photographer who, in 2017, spent several months in Finland observing and capturing the seasons as they change from winter to summer. Titled “Tranquility at the Shore,” Tsuda’s photos capture plants coming back to life, thawing lakes, the gentle spring sun and region that welcomes a short-lived summer.
Also noteworthy is the innovative methods employed to display Tsuda’s photographs in the large tatami room. Designer Koichi Futatsumata created custom-designed display cases that were built to the exact specifications of tatami mats. That way, existing tatami mats could be removed and the display cases fitted in their place. The dynamic display cases allow visitors to view the photographs standing up or sitting down!
The other artist exhibiting work is Fujiwo Ishimoto, textile designer turned ceramicist. He’s lived in Helsinki since the 1970s and previously worked at Marimekko where he created iconic prints that continue to live on today. In 1989 he switched trajectories and went to work for Finnish ceramics company Arabia. “Shape of Fruits” will consist of numerous ceramic pieces in Fujimoto’s signature pastel color palette and inspired by summer fruits and gourds.
The joint-exhibition of Tsuda’s photographs and Ishimoto’s ceramics, held in the bunshokan and homotsuden spaces, respectively, are on display through July 1, 2018 at Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine. General admission is 700 yen.