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July 30, 2022

Join Tomoko Kōnoike and Mayako Murai for an insight into the planning and making of the Storytelling Cushions, as part of Kōnoike’s ongoing performance art project.

In this event, audience members will be able to watch in person and online as the artist and a group of participants discuss what the Storytelling Table Runner means to them and how this will influence the new Storytelling Cushion project as it unfolds.

Audience members will be invited to share their own experiences and stories at the end of the session.

This event will be in English and Japanese with sequential interpretation by interpreter-curator Naoko Mabon.

On this occasion, the gallery will be open for extended hours with drinks available.



Storytelling Table Runner is a long-running project that artist Tomoko Kōnoike has been conducting since 2014. 

The project consists of three stages: gathering personal stories of people whom Kōnoike meets while travelling; Kōnoike drawing sketches based on the stories; and participants sewing table mats based on her sketches.

With Yūko Shōji, a handicraft expert in Akita, and Mayako Murai, a fairy tale researcher, as the main travel companions, Storytelling Table Runner has been unfolding with people the artist met in Akita, Aomori, the Noto Peninsula, Oshima Island (a former leprosy colony), Tasmania, and Finland.

In Sydney, Kōnoike is going to try a new format of cushions, an intimate object she sees as occupying a modest but important place in people’s everyday lives. Supported by the Australia-Japan Foundation Grant, this workshop will open a new chapter in this unique art project, connecting people in the two countries through storytelling and handicraft. 

This workshop will be followed by a second workshop, which will take place at Kanagawa University, Yokohama, and online in November 2022.


Tomoko Kōnoike (b. 1960, Akita) was involved in the planning and design of toys, sundries, and furniture, and these activities have carried over into the present day after graduating from the Department of Painting (Japanese Painting) at Tokyo University of the Arts, she Even as she employs several kinds of media—animation, illustrated books, painting, sculpture, songs, photography, handcrafts, or fairy tales—she has participated in many interdisciplinary sessions with people in other fields, created site-specific works that incorporate descriptions of a region’s climate and terrain, and continued to address primordial questions about art. Her major exhibitions include Jam Session: Ishibashi Foundation Collection x Tomoko Konoike Tomoko Konoike FLIP (ARTIZON MUSEUM, Tokyo,  2020), and Inter-Traveller (Tokyo Opera City Art Gallery, Tokyo, 2009). Her major travelling exhibition The Birth of Seeing will open at Takamatsu Art Museum, Kagawa, in July 2022.


Mayako Murai is professor of English and comparative literature at Kanagawa University, Japan. She is the author of From Dog Bridegroom to Wolf Girl: Contemporary Japanese Fairy-Tale Adaptations in Conversation with the West (2015) and co-editor of Re-Orienting the Fairy Tale: Contemporary Adaptations across Cultures (2020), both published by Wayne State University Press. She curated the exhibition Tomoko Konoike: Fur Story held at the Blenheim Walk Gallery, Leeds Arts University in 2018 and has been collaborating with Konoike on the ongoing art project Storytelling Table Runner since 2014. She is currently writing a book on fairy-tale animals in contemporary art and picturebook illustration.

Exhibition Info

Storymakers in Contemporary Japanese Art dives into a world of fantasy and wonder through a selection of works by five contemporary artists from Japan. Storytelling has a strong presence in contemporary Japanese art, with the significance of sharing and reimagining both personal and communal stories becoming increasingly evident in the wake of major natural and human-caused events. The fairy tale, a genre of narrative that has long told stories about nonhuman beings and non-living things, can give us clues to imagining a more-than-human world that transforms the way people perceive and experience life.

Curated by Emily Wakeling and Mayako Murai, the artworks in this exhibition, with their re-workings of materials, formats and corporeal experiences, revisit old familiar stories in new forms to transcend the anthropocentric worldview. It is this view that has made the modern world blind to vital connections humans hold with the earth and all its inhabitants.

CLICK HERE for more information on the exhibition


July 30, 2022 (Saturday)
6pm-8pm AEST

The Japan Foundation, Sydney
Level 4, Central Park
28 Broadway, Chippendale NSW 2008


Free; bookings required for online participation via Zoom

Book Now


(02) 8239 0055

Header image: Courtesy of the artist


Storymakers Program

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