British Council chooses UK in Japan 2019-20 artists-in-residence for Ise Grand Shrine

British Council has announced the artists-in-residence for the first-ever at Ise Jingu, the spiritual home of the Japanese people.

The artists are:

  • Grace Boyle (multisensory artist)
  • Season Butler (writer and performance artist)
  • Matthew Rosier (artist)
  • Duncan Speakman (artist and composer)
  • Nicole Vivien Watson (choreographer)
  • Jane and Louise Watson (visual artists)

The seven artists were chosen from 600 submissions. The two-week residency takes place in October 2019 and will give the artists a unique opportunity to interact and respond to Japanese culture.

The Mayor of Ise City, Kenichi Suzuki, said: “It is a great honour to be able to welcome seven brilliantly talented artists from the UK to Ise. The fortunate coincidence of being able to host these guests from the UK, the home of one of my passions, rugby, at the same time as Japan hosting the Rugby World Cup makes me as excited as a young boy. Through this project, undertaken in collaboration with the British Council, I hope fully to convey the charms of Ise and of Japan to our friends in the UK. I am very much looking forward to seeing how the seven artists, with their finely-honed sensibilities, perceive Ise. I and all the people of Ise extend a heartfelt welcome to our British guests. See you all in Ise!”

The cultural programme aims to build new cultural relationships with Japan. Leading British institutions will present work from the worlds of classical music, theatre, visual arts, and disability arts, continuing a legacy of inclusivity borne out of the 2012 Paralympics in London. Highlights of UK in JAPAN cultural events include:

  • A British Council partnership with the London Symphony Orchestra engaging diverse members of the Japanese community in the creation of music, plus their Musical Director, Sir Simon Rattle, returning to Japan for a series of concerts 
  • The first ever BBC Proms taking place in Japan in autumn 2019 with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, led by Chief Conductor Thomas Dausgaard
  • Jason Bruges Studio’s large-scale robotic installation, The Constant Gardeners, inspired by Olympic athletes.
  • The Burrell Collection touring masterpieces of French painting, alongside supporting works from Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum
  • The Courtauld Gallery staging an exhibition of treasures from its Impressionist and Post-impressionist collection in three museums across Japan
  • Drake Music and the City of Kawasaki’s cutting-edge creative tech project, increasing access to music and co-creating new instruments with and for disabled people
  • Graeae Theatre Company’s collaborative production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest with deaf and disabled artists from Japan, the UK and Bangladesh, directed by Jenny Sealey
  • A large-scale solo exhibition showcasing the diverse works of contemporary artist Julian Opie
  • National Dance Company Wales celebrate rugby with a contemporary dance performance
  • An exhibition of around 60 masterpieces from the National Gallery Collection, including Vincent van Gogh’s Sunflowers, which travel to Japan for the first time
  • Philharmonia Orchestra performing concerts with Principal Conductor EsaPekka Salonen
  • Royal Court Theatre’s international playwriting workshops hosted by the New National Theatre Tokyo, led by Royal Court playwrights and members of the theatre’s Artistic Team
  • The Royal Opera returning to Japan with productions of Faust and Otello
  • Scottish Ensemble and composer Anna Meredith transforms Vivaldi’s Four Seasons into an original new piece, Anno
  • Traverse Theatre connecting two Scottish playwrights with residencies in Japan

Matt Burney, Country Director Japan at British Council, comments: “Our cultural relationship provides a very strong foundation from which we can build trust, learn from each other and enable business links to flourish. There is no better time to be celebrating ties with UK in Japan 2019-20. The eyes of the world will be on Japan as we enter a new Japanese era, and with the country hosting the Rugby World Cup and the Olympics and Paralympics. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to celebrate and develop the deep ties that exist between our countries. The artists chosen to participate in the Ise residency will come to represent the embodiment of the cultural relationship that exists between the UK and Japan.”


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