Of dust, An exhibition comprising 20 works

Sian Bowen

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition


During the second phase of her Residency in Drawing at the V&A, Siân Bowen has been exploring threads of Junichiro Tanizaki’s celebrated discourse on Japanese aesthetics and architecture, In Praise of Shadows. Tanizaki’s premise that “…there is no beauty without shadows” lies at the core of these new works. As Bowen investigates architectural forms in miniature – 18th century Japanese okoshi-ezu or three-dimensional folding teahouse plans – the novelist’s comparison of shadows to dust, and his celebration of grime in relation to elegance, have been translated into visual terms. Many of her works in this exhibition have evolved through the age-old technique of maki-e which involves dusting wet Japanese lacquer with pure silver or gold powder. The resulting works – photographic images of the teahouse models transposed onto lacquered surfaces – bring together ancient and contemporary techniques and materials, and in doing so blur the boundaries between photography, print, painting and drawing.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationDaiwa Foundation, London
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2008

Cite this