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What is Netsuke?

Presented Melanie Eastburn

June 17, 2021

Join us for a talk on all things netsuke with Melanie Eastburn (Senior Curator of Asian Art at the Art Gallery of NSW) to celebrate the Contemporary Wood-Carved Netsuke exhibition, held at The Japan Foundation, Sydney from June 4-26, 2021. In this talk event, Melanie will present a comprehensive overview on the history of netsuke, techniques used to create netsuke and the netsuke collection owned by the Art Gallery of NSW.


As kimono culture flourished during the Edo period (1603-1868), netsuke, small carvings, were created as toggles to hold pouches and cases containing tobacco and medicine in place on the obi sash worn with the kimono. What began as functional pieces to prevent those little suspended containers from falling to the ground evolved into small but highly creative carvings. Today, classic netsuke have gained international acclaim as remarkably detailed carvings. Contemporary netsuke incorporating new subject matter and approaches have also been attracting attention.

This in-person talk event will also be livestreamed on the JPF Sydney Facebook page.



Melanie Eastburn is Senior Curator of Asian art at the Art Gallery of New South Wales. From 2004 until 2016 she was Curator of Asian art at the National Gallery of Australia. Melanie has also worked at the National Museum of Cambodia in Phnom Penh, 2003-2004, and the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney 2001-2003. She was closely involved in negotiating the long-term loans to the NGA from the National Museum of Cambodia and has curated a number of exhibitions including: Japan Supernatural, AGNSW, November 2019 – March 2020, Glorious: earthly pleasures and heavenly realms, AGNSW, from May 2017; Time, light, Japan, AGNSW, December 2016 – May 2017; The story of Rama: Indian miniatures from the National Museum, New Delhi (coordinating curator; curator: Dr Vijay Mathur), NGA, 2015; Divine worlds: Indian painting, NGA, 2012; Black robe, white mist: art of the Japanese Buddhist nun Rengetsu, NGA, 2007; Fruits: Tokyo street style, Powerhouse Museum, 2002



June 17, 2021 (Thursday)
6:30pm – 7:30pm AEDT
Doors open at 6:00pm

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

In-person attendance
Free, bookings not required

via Facebook Live; bookings not required

(02) 8239 0055

Header image: © The Japan Foundation, Sydney

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