26th May 2017 - 24th September 2017
The energy and spirit of 19th century Edo (now Tokyo) is brought to life in this exhibition of 50 woodblock prints, on loan from local collector Frank Milner.
The vibrant and colourful prints were 'mass produced' by hand and eagerly sought after by fans of Edo's popular culture. A single print cost the price of a haircut or two bowls of noodles. These were affordable images bought by a wide variety of people.
Visitors to the exhibition can explore an intriguing world of urban celebrities, actors, sports champions, fashion icons and villains, as depicted by leading printmakers such as Kuniyoshi, Kunisada and Kunichika, the last great master of the Kabuki actor print. The prints depict a time of great change and modernisation, when Western influence was starting to be felt alongside traditional Japanese culture.
Today these prints are considered to be outstanding examples of creativity and technical skill, but when they were first made the Japanese government referred to them as 'trivial Edo things'.