Project Japan British Library Donation

Presenting Books to Hamish Todd BL Slide Collection Archive


Project Japan is an accumulation of articles, books, DVD productions and the above slide collection proudly donated to the British Library. See Sidmouth Herald feature.

The donor Graham Cooper was born in Bury, Lancashire in 1949 and graduated from the Painting School at the Royal College of Art in 1978. A founder member of “Art & Architecture” he became the chairperson from 1994 to 2008. An art practitioner with a special interest in Japan, he was the architectural coordinator for the “Japan 2001” festival. In 1995 he was awarded The Japan Foundation Artist Fellowship and in 1998 received a GB Sasakawa Foundation bursary to explore ways artist & designers were contributing towards health care in Japan. In 1998 he introduced Tadao Ando to Arups in Manchester and together they won the competition to reconfigure the Piccadilly Gardens in the centre of the city, the first major building in the UK by a Japanese Architect. In 2005 he compiled the book Art and Nature; Healing - Design for Health in the UK & Japan, followed in 2009 by a second more substantial book Project Japan – Architectural Design and Art Media - From Edo to Now.

Following a family bereavement in 1993 followed by three short visits, the above project itself commenced in earnest two year later when he was awarded the artist fellowship. The brief was " Art in the context of Contemporary Architecture in Japan" and the five-month fellowship was hosted by the pioneering architect Dr Kisho Kurokawa. The resulting photographic survey is a record of personal assignments and site visits made during and since the fellowship.

Assembled between 1993 and 2007 Project Japan was achieved over a decade of sustained commitment with more than a dozen research visits to the archipelago. Commencing in the aftermath of the Great Hanshin Earthquake, it was an evolving programme based on first-hand experience. It catalogues architectural design from the Edo period through to outstanding buildings bridging the turn of the century. The documentation provides a unique snapshot of design ingenuity in the wake of Japan's extra-ordinary economic reconstruction. It covers a significant peak period in the history of the Japanese construction industry, The slide collection features buildings by such renowned contemporary architects as Tadao Ando, Fumihiko Maki, Kisho Kurokawa, Toyo Ito, Shigeru Ban, Kazuo Sejima, Yoshio Taniguchi, Makoto Sei Watanabe and Kengo Kuma with schemes by other leading or emerging artists and designers. Containing over 3000 photographic slides overall the Project Japan collection features the work of over a hundred artists and designers.

Upon his return to the UK, he soon discovered a distinct lack of understanding and awareness in the wealth of creativity then on display in Japan. It was this gap in our knowledge but with an increasing curiosity which fed the need for a structured look at architectural design and art in context. Prompted by how little was known he expressed his findings through talks, mini-videos and a series of exhibitions assembled mostly since the start of the millennium.

BL Title: Project Japan Collection of 35 mm slides. Photographer: Graham Cooper
Collection Area: Visual Arts
Reference: Photo 1388
Creation Date: c 2000-2010
Extent and Access:
Approximately 3065 mm slides
Conditions of Use: Appointment required to view these records. Please consult Asian and African Studies Print Room staff.
Language: English
Contents and Scope:

Collection of 35 mm colour slides of Japanese architecture and environmental subjects, divided into the following categories:
Photo 1388/1. Architecture part A (929 slides)
Photo 1388/2. Architecture part B (395 slides)
Photo 1388/3. Traditional architecture (419 slides)
Photo 1388/4. Art and Places (665 slides)
Photo 1388/5. Japanese health design (657 slides)
Photo 1388/6. DVDs of video productions by Graham Cooper.

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