Exhibition of ceramic artworks Setomonogatari 5 and 6 in the group exhibition 'Wordsworth and Basho: Walking Poets' at Kakimori Bunko Gallery, Itami, Japan, 17.09.16-03.11.16.

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition

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Curated by Professor Mike Collier, University of Sunderland, this exhibition presented original manuscripts of William Wordsworth and Matsuo Basho alongside new art work by contemporary UK and Japanese artists. Kakimori Bunko is a library and gallery which holds a significant collection of Matsuo Basho's manuscripts.

McHugh's work responds to themes of memory and the ephemerality of the human condition in the work of both Basho and Wordsworth. While Basho often revisited ruins and other sites of communal memory, Wordsworth was concerned that human endeavour - including monuments and works of literature - was at risk of destruction through catastrophe and would be outlasted by nature. This work takes as inspiration Wordsworth's The Ruined Cottage and the well-known 'summer grass' haiku from The Narrow Road co the Deep North composed by Basho when he visited the abandoned estate at Hiraizumi, in 1689.
In a haiku written in 1678, Basho refers to the annual procession made by Dutch traders from their enclave in Dejima, Nagasaki, to pay homage to the Shogun in distant Eda. During the Edo Period (1600-1868), it was only the Dutch and Chinese who were permitted to trade with Japan, providing a limited portal to the world. Pottery sherds recovered from Dejima show that the Dutch took British ceramics, including transfer-printed Sunderland pottery, to Japan in the nineteenth century. Through form and surface decoration, McHugh explores the idea of hybridity, blending east and west, and attempting to fuse the work of both poets. His porcelain vessels feature imagery derived from research into ruined industrial sites in Seto, a traditional centre of Japanese pottery production. Setomonogatari is a portmanteau word formed from Setomono - the traditional term for Seto pottery - and monogatari, meaning 'story'. Blades of glass grass grow from the vessels, suggesting the endurance of nature over culture.

The excerpted catalogue contains essays by Dr Carol Mackay and Prof Mike Collier and was published by Kakimori Bunko in 2016 to accompany the exhibition ’Wordsworth and Basho: Walking Poets’ 「歩く詩人 ワーズワスと芭蕉」
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationItami, Japan
PublisherKakimori Bunko
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 17 Sept 2016


  • William Wordsworth
  • Matsuo Basho
  • kakimori bunko
  • Walking
  • poets
  • haiku
  • Sunderland
  • Mike Collier
  • Christopher McHugh


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