Sunday, 20 April 2014

Class Societies: Japan and Britain at Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Japan in the era of the Samurai: not just the forbidding Samurai swordsmen, of whom there are reconstructions here, but the wonderful Netsukes and other accoutrements and paintings or tapestries.  High sophistication and skilful art, underpinned by a society of strict order, where said Samurai really could chop off your head if you were a member of the lower orders and didn't show appropriate respect.
Even the Tories aren't that bad.
On to Grayson Perry, a genial character with an edge to his satire that's as sharp as a Samurai sword in the series of tapestries researched and designed by him and combining a Madonna-and-child Jesus narrative with the Hogarth Rake's Progress.  The rise and fall of a character in modern Britain.
Both in Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery at the moment - and free entry!

Incidentally, the Museum building dates from the great era of civic endeavour under Tory Joseph Chamberlain, and free entry to many museums in the UK is thanks to much-maligned former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown (as is the Gift Aid initiative for adding extra money to charitable donations.  That's one that would never be thought of by George Osborne).


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