• Symbiosis: Living Island explores the large-scale art and architecture project, Inujima ‘Art House Project’, that is transforming the Japanese island of Inujima.
  • Exhibition demonstrates how to breathe new life into a rural community through creativity, while engaging the local community and celebrating their natural surroundings.
  • Visitors are transported to the island through the sights and sounds of everyday life, captured through art and diorama installations, photography and videography.
  • Video testimony from residents explores the transformational impact the project has had on their ‘living island’.       
  • Exhibition continues with a full-scale replica of part of Yellow Flower Dream by Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes. The stained glass-like artwork aims to capture the energy and vibrant colours of the island’s landscape, flora and fauna.
  • Exhibition runs from now until Sunday 4 September 2022  
  • Press images available here 

Step onto Inujima’s art island this summer with Symbiosis: Living Island, exploring the extraordinary living art project has been transforming the landscape and the lives of the inhabitants of Inujima Island in the Seto Inland Sea since 2010.

On show at Japan House London until 4 September 2022, Symbiosis: Living Island presents a masterclass in how to breathe new life into an isolated island community through art and architecture which directly engages the local community and celebrates its surroundings. 

The tiny 0.54 km² island of Inujima - once a thriving industrial hub for the copper refining and stone quarrying industries - has seen a steady decline in population with just 50 of its elderly residents remaining today. The Fukutake Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the promotion of regional culture, has been responsible for the celebrated Benesse Art Site Naoshima project that has developed the neighbouring islands of Naoshima and Teshima. In 2009 the foundation approached curator Hasegawa Yūko, Director of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa, and internationally renowned architect Sejima Kazuyo to help provide a creative lifeline for the extraordinary Inujima landscape. 

Inujima is now home to five art pavilions and several evolving outdoor exhibits, all designed and created by artists from across the globe - including Nawa Kōhei, Kojin Haruka, Asai Yūsuke and Olafur Eliasson – with the aim of rejuvenating a local population which thrives on sharing their ‘art island’ with visitors from all over the world.

Upon stepping into the exhibition space, visitors are transported to the island via both the sights and sounds of everyday island life, all designed to provide a visual sense of how the art, architecture, landscape and inhabitants of Inujima experience a symbiotic relationship. 

Occupying the central space of the gallery is a 1:100 diorama of the island, a series of sculpted metalwork routes representing the pathways that traverse across the island landscape. 

The art and architecture of Inujima is further brought to life via architectural models and photography which demonstrate how the ‘Art-House’ structures utilise existing buildings and spaces on the island, repurposing and reimagining their everyday function.  The exhibition also features oral testimonies from residents who chat enthusiastically not only about their involvement in the project and the ongoing importance of working in harmony with the island’s existing assets, but how the project has transformed the lives of the islanders and restored their faith in its future prosperity. 

The exhibition continues on the Ground Floor with a full-scale replica of part of Yellow Flower Dream by internationally renowned Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes. Created especially for installation in A-Art House in 2018, the site-specific artwork functions as a stained glass-like structure that aims to capture the energy and vibrant colours of Injuma’s natural landscape.

Hasegawa Yūko, curator of the Symbiosis: Living Island exhibition said: “The island of Inujima is a place that embodies an harmonious eco-system. Through our work, we wanted to create an example of how an island and its community can be revitalized and enriched by living together with art. I hope that visitors to the Symbiosis exhibition will experience the same enrichment from their interaction with the Inujima ‘Art House Project’, not only exploring the concept of symbiosis in their own lives but to maybe even visit the island one day”.

Simon Wright, Director of Programming, Japan House London said: “We are delighted to be able to bring the story behind the extraordinary island of Inujima to life at Japan House London and the work of two remarkable Japanese cultural leaders. Symbiosis: Living Island explores the transformative impact the Inujima ‘Art House Project’ has had on, not only those who live and work on the island, but those who travel from afar to visit.” 

Symbiosis: Living Island is open now until Sunday 4 September 2022. Admission is free and booking is recommended.

Autumn exhibition at Japan House London

This year, Japan House London’s autumn exhibition will explore the art of master woodworkingOpening Thursday 29 September 2022, the exhibition will shine a light on the densely forested Hida region of Gifu Prefecture in central Japan, famous for its master carpentry. Featuring a variety of materials, techniques and products that represent the reflect the breadth of skill passed between generations of Hida craftspeople – visitors can explore woodworking from Japan’s most innovative woodworking region.

For centuries the region has been known for the quality of its timber and highly skilled carpenters. An initiative in the beginning of the eighth century CE saw woodworking skills provided to the imperial capital in place of taxation, such was the importance of the carpentry techniques originating in this area of Japan. Today, the practice of woodworking flourishes in Hida and the quality of the region’s craftsmanship is respected worldwide. It was the extraordinary skill of Hida craftsmen that built many of the famous shrines and temples still seen in the ancient capitals of Japan today.

Visit japanhouselondon.uk for further information.



Media Information and Press Contacts

Press Images:  www.japanhouselondon.uk/media-centre 

Press contact:  press.office@japanhouselondon.uk

Notes to Editors

About the Inujima ‘Art House Project’ 

Inujima ‘Art House Project’ was launched with the objective of inspiring the local community of Inujima, allowing the inhabitants  to experience with beauty their  everyday lives and their familiar natural surroundings that extend beyond the artworks, inviting Hasegawa Yūko as Artistic Director and  Sejima as the Architect. The project is operated by the Fukutake Foundation.


About Hasegawa Yūko

Director of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa (2021–present) and Professor in Curatorial Studies at the Graduate School of Global Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts (2016–present) and Artistic Director of Inujima ‘Art House Project’ (2011–present). Hasegawa has also been Artistic Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2016–March 2021). 

She has curated numerous exhibitions, including the 2nd  Thailand Biennale, Korat (2021); Symbiosis: the lived island, Japan House São Paulo (2021): Sharjapan 3: Remain Calm, Sharjah Art Foundation (2021); rhizomatiks_multiplex, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2021); Olafur Eliasson: Sometimes the river is the bridge, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2020); Dumb Type | Actions + Reflections, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2019–2020); Sharjapan 2: Inter-Resonance: Inter-Organics, Japanese Performance and Sound Art, Sharjah Art Foundation (2019–2020); Desire: A Revision from the 20th Century to the Digital Age, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2019–2020); Intimate distance. Masterpieces of the Ishikawa Collection, Montpellier Contemporain (2019); Sharjapan: The Poetics of Space, Sharjah Art Foundation (2019); Fukami: A Plunge into the Japanese Aesthetic, Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild, Paris (2018); the 7th International Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2017); and Japanorama: NEW VISION ON ART SINCE 1970, Centre Pompidou-Metz (2017).

About Sejima Kazuyo

Sejima Kazuyo was born in Ibaraki Prefecture in central Japan. Graduating with a master’s degree in Architecture from Japan Women’s University in 1981, she set up her own practice in 1987 with the name Kazuyo Sejima & Associates.  Sejima’s work soon earned national recognition, gaining her the award of Young Architect of the Year from the Japanese Institute of Architects in 1992. In 1995 together with Nishizawa Ryūe, she founded SANAA. In 2010 Sejima was appointed director of the 12th International Architecture Exhibition of Venice Biennale. Her honours include the Japan Architecture Award, Venice Biennale Golden Lion Award, Rolf Schock Prize, Pritzker Architecture Prize, Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Letters, and Medal with Purple Ribbon. She is currently a professor at the Polytechnic University of Milan, and teaches at Japan Women’s University and Osaka University of Arts as a visiting professor. SANAA’s main works include the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, the Rolex Learning Center (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne), and the Louvre-Lens.

About Japan House London

Japan House London is a cultural destination offering guests the opportunity to experience the best and latest from Japan. Located on London’s Kensington High Street, the experience is an authentic encounter with Japan, engaging and surprising even the most knowledgeable guests. Presenting the very best of Japanese art, design, gastronomy, innovation, and technology, it deepens the visitor’s appreciation of all that Japan has to offer. Part of a global initiative led by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are two other Japan Houses, one in Los Angeles and the other in São Paulo.