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Netsuke and Other Miniatures

  • Sunday, June 01, 2014
  • (EDT)
  • Sunday, August 31, 2014
  • (EDT)
  • Art Gallery of South Australia

11 April to 31 August 2014 
Free admission 
Gallery 21

2014 is the centenary of the establishment of the Art Gallery’s important collection of Japanese netsuke, inrō and other carvings. This collection, numbering around 300 works of art, has been developed through the generosity of many South Australians including early notable art connoisseurs such as Sir Samuel Way (1836-1916) and more recently, Max Carter AO. 

Netsuke were made as miniature functional toggles to secure small containers that were worn suspended from men’s belts during the Edo period (1615-1867). In the late nineteenth century, netsuke carvers applied the same traditional techniques to create ornamental sculptures, known as okimono, for export to the West at a time when Japanese art was highly fashionable and much sought after. 

Netsuke, inrō and okimono are made from diverse materials and depict a vast array of subjects. The carvings in the display illustrate the themes of Auspicious animals, Myths and legends, Beliefs and superstitions, and Daily Life. 

A richly illustrated book Netsuke and other miniatures from the Art Gallery of South Australia by Jennifer Harris accompanies the display and will be available from the Gallery Shop from late April. 

Knowing Netsuke 
Gallery visitors are always delighted by the detail of Japanese Netsuke, here is your chance to hear from the experts. 
When: Saturday 19 July 2-4pm 
2pm - Max Carter AO, gallery patron recounts his discovery of netsuke 
2.30pm - Jennifer Harris, Curator, Netsuke and other miniatures discusses iconography, aesthetics and wonder 
3.15pm - Catherine Truman, contemporary jeweller and object-maker speaks about her practice and the influence of netsuke 
Cost: Free 
Where: Radford Auditorium 
Bookings essential: Ph 8207 7035 or email or Book online 

Music & Dance 
Join us for Japanese folk dance and Shakuhachi flute performances. 
When: Saturday 19 July, Short performances between 2.30-3.30pm 
Where: Santos Atrium & Gallery 21 
Cost: Free 

Carve Up 
Artist and sculptor, Silvio Apponyi demonstrates netsuke carving techniques. 
When: Saturday 19 July, 12pm– 3pm  
Where: Gallery 21 
Cost: Free 

Weekend Talk 
Jennifer Harris, visiting research fellow at the University of Adelaide and contributing writer to the exhibition catalogue reflects on the influence of Menpes's Japan travels on his practice. 
When: Sunday 20 July, 1pm 
Where: Gallery 21 
Cost: Free 


The International Netsuke Society is vehemently opposed to the trafficking, trade or commerce of illegal ivory, horn or any other illegal material. We support and comply with all international laws and regulations, including but not limited to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), the Endangered Species Act, and the African Elephant Conservation Act.