Mono no Aware: The Poignancy of Things

Left: a view from the homeless shelter. Right: a view from the imperial villa.

Left: a view from the homeless shelter. Right: a view from the imperial villa.

Image: Brett Boardman

Architectural photographer Brett Boardman is exhibiting a series of photographs captured at the iconic seventeenth-century Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto, Japan.

The villa is sited on the south bank of the Katsura River. The land, originally a rice field, was gifted to Prince Hachijō Toshihito in the late sixteenth century, on which the Prince first built a humble villa described as a “teahouse in the melon patch.” The grand villa and surrounding buildings as they stand today were built by the successive generations of the Prince’s descendants until the line died out in 1881.

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Boardman travelled to Kyoto in 2011 and had initially intended to document the villa, which is one of Japan’s most important cultural assets. When he left the grounds, he stumbled on a makeshift homeless shelter under a nearby bridge “which seemed to possess and express more directly Prince Hachijō Toshihito’s desire for the original Katsura to be ‘a teahouse in the melon patch.’”

The exhibition, designed by architect Andrew Burns, pairs each photograph taken from the villa with a similar view from the shelter, revealing unexpected parallels between two examples of human habitation that are geographically close but worlds apart.

In addition to the exhibition, there will also be a series of talks by the photographer in Melbourne and Sydney.

Sydney: Friday 6 March, 6pm – 7pm
The Japan Foundation
Level 4, Central at Central Park
28 Broadway, Chippendale
Bookings required

Melbourne: Tuesday 10 March, 6pm - 7pm
The Japanese Room, The Melbourne School of Design
The University of Melbourne
Bookings required


Japan Foundation Gallery
26 February – 11 April 2015

A limited edition book of Boardman’s photographs, published by Uro Media, is available for purchase.


Google Map
Japan Foundation Gallery
Level 4, Central Park, 28 Broadway Street,  Chippendale,  Sydney,  Vic,  2008,  Australia
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