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Presentation ‘Cabinet of Curiosities. Inspired by the collaboration between Siebold and Keiga.’

15 December 2023 to 18 February 2024

4 Wooden Narratives by Carole Baijings in collaboration with Akihiko Maeda photography by Shinji Otani

From 15 December 2023 to 18 February 2024, Japan Museum SieboldHuis is delighted to present a ‘Cabinet of Curiosities. Inspired by the collaboration between Siebold and Keiga.’ This presentation of wooden objects combined with paintings will be on display in the Panorama Room. The Japanese master craftsman Akihito Maeda and the Dutch designer Carole Baijings have combined traditional Japanese wood carving with Dutch design. The result is a unique collaborative project that presents well known works by artist Kawahara Keiga (1786-1860) and his teacher Ishizaki Yūshi (1768-1846) in a different light.

The origin of this project can be traced back to the collaboration between Philipp Franz von Siebold and Kawahara Keiga. Between 1820 and 1830 Keiga produced hundreds of paintings, many of which were commissioned by Siebold. At the beginning of the 19th century Siebold collected information on plants, animals, seeds, and a wide variety of utensils. Keiga played a crucial role in documenting Siebolds findings while on the Dutch trading post of Deshima.

Known as ‘a photographer without a camera’ Keiga recorded daily life in Japan for Siebold and it is in these authentic paintings that Carole Baijings and Akihito Maeda found the inspiration that led to the contemporary objects where East and West, past and present come together.

In this unusual combination Baijings and Maeda use wood as the supporting element of the objects. Characteristic of the design is Baijing’s distinctive handwriting with its fluorescent touch and Maeda’s delicate wood carving. Upon seeing the wooden objects the viewer will immediately recognize Keiga and Yūshi’s shapes, the orderly buildings on Deshima, the adorable dolphin, the gold-yellow yuzu, which now have become 3 dimensional objects

On Maeda and Baijings

At an early age Akihito Maeda was inspired by the danjiri festivals in his home town of Osaka to become a danjiri craftsman. Danjiri are wooden carts (floats) shaped like temples or altars and richly decorated with delicate wood carving. Maeda refined his work for over a decade before becoming an independent craftsman (Maeda Woodworks) in 2008.In an effort to keep the traditional craft of danjiri wood carving alive, it is Maeda’s intention to share and spread the Japanese wood carving techniques around the world.

Carole Baijings is seen as one of the most innovative and dynamic designers in Europe. Her work that includes ceramics, glass, textiles, furniture, and electronics, stands out through its painstaking use of colour, patterns and graphic elements. Her eye for detail has not gone unnoticed and has often resulted in numerous collaborative projects in the past.