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Brett Boardman’s Sydney exhibition documents Japanese architecture

Brett Boardman’s Sydney exhibition documents Japanese architecture


Above image: Detail of Brett Boardman’s work for ‘Mono no Aware: The Poignancy of Things’

The Japan Foundation, Sydney presents a photographic exhibition by architectural photographer Brett Boardman, titled Mono no Aware: The Poignancy of Things’. Captured in contemporary Kyoto, this series of photos will be publicly shown for the first time at The Japan Foundation Gallery fro 26 February – 11 April. The exhibition is designed by award-winning architect Andrew Burns and runs as part of Spectrum Now Festival and Art Month 2015.

The Japan Foundation is a public organisation established in 1972 in Tokyo dedicated to promoting cultural and intellectual exchange between Japan and other nations through the implementation of comprehensive international cultural exchange projects. Through its activities, it contributes to the deepening of mutual international understanding and the building of peace in the international community. The Japan Foundation in Australia was founded in 1978 in Canberra and then moved to Sydney in 1988.

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The Katsura Palace


The Katsura palace (Katsura Rikyū) is a pivotal work of Japanese Architecture, often described as the “quintessence of Japanese taste.” First revealed to the world by Bruno Taut, the great German architect, in the early twentieth century, Katsura stunned the architectural community of the West. Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius, pillars of the Modernist establishment, were fascinated by Katsura’s “modernity.” They saw in its orthogonal and modular spaces, devoid of decoration, clear parallels to contemporary Modernism, going so far as to laud Katsura as a “historical” example of Modernity.

The images juxtapose Katsura Imperial Villa, an iconic 17th century villa that has long captivated architects worldwide, with a makeshift shelter of a homeless person under a bridge nearby. This entrancing image sequence, shot over a single 2 hour period, reveals unexpected parallels between two examples of human shelter that are geographically close, but worlds apart. Simple yet intuitive exhibition design puts viewers into the photographer;s shoes and allows them to experience the same journey as Boardman did on the day he photographed the two sites.

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Interior of the Katsura Palace


The exhibition coincides with the release of a limited-edition hardcover book of the same name, to be launched at a public talk event on Thursday 5 March, 2015.

Boardman, an architecture graduate from the University of Sydney and a photographer centring on architecture, landscape, and set design says of the conception of this exhibition, “I initially planned to document the architectural and material qualities of Katsura Imperial Villa. However upon leaving the palace I discovered the nearby makeshift shelter which seemed to possess and express more directly Prince Hachijo Toshihito’s desire for the original Katsura to be ‘a teahouse in the melon patch’. The images may be viewed as architectural photography, documentary photography or social commentary and will hopefully continue the dialogue that began almost 100 years ago between Katsura Rikyu as a palace, Japan as a culture and the West.”

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Images courtesy Brett Boardman and the Japan Foundation


The Japan Foundation, Sydney director Nao Endo says, “We’re excited to work with Brett Boardman and Andrew Burns to host The Japan Foundation, Sydney’s first public event since its reopening in Central Park.”

Two public talks will run alongside this exhibition.


Gallery hours:

Monday – Thursday                              10am-8pm

Friday                                                           10am-6pm

Saturday                                                    10am-3pm (except March 7, April 4)

Closed Sundays and public holidays 

Admission is free. February 26 April 11, 2015

Talk events

March 5,  6-7pm


Photographic Memory: The Making of Mono no aware

Artist talk and book launch by Brett Boardman

March 14, 2-3pm

Tokyo Void: Possibilities in Absence

Public talk by Dr Heike Rahmann (RMIT University)


The Japan Foundation Gallery

Address: Level 4, Central at Central Park ,28 Broadway, Chippendale NSW 2008

Phone:(02) 8239 0055


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