The University of Leicester has been chosen as the English venue for a unique exhibition of calligraphy by the Group Monjiya from Japan.
The Richard Attenborough Centre for Disability and the Arts is launching the exhibition with a symposium given by a team from the Tanpopo-No-Ye Foundation (the Able Arts Movement), with the journalist and museum educator, Julia Cassim.
The disabled artist, Hiroko Uemura, and calligrapher Meiyo Minami,will be leading workshops where students of the Richard Attenborough Centre and symposium members can try their hand at the art of calligraphy.
The symposium and workshops will take place on Tuesday 11 January 2000, and the exhibition will run until 28 January. Speakers will include Yasuo Harima, Chairman and founder of Tanpopo-No-Ye Foundation, Julia Cassim and Meiyo Minami.
Meiyo Minami is a calligrapher and artistic director of the Group Monjiya, who started the classes at the Tanpopo-No-Ye Foundation in 1992 and whose workshops use calligraphy as a means of creative expression for people with disabilities.The exhibition will be opened by the Deputy Lord Mayor of Leicester, Councillor Mrs Barbara Chambers, with the Deputy Lady Mayoress, Miss Heather Chambers.
This event at the Richard Attenborough Centre stems from a tour of Japanese educational centres by the Centre's Organising Tutor for Sculpture, Sian Thomas.
Speaking about the forthcoming exhibition, she said: "We are looking at a very lively project, with quite different courses from usual. Calligraphy in Japan is breaking boundaries, enabling people with disabilities to use the marks in a creative way.
"The marks have a great deal of significance, they are used both for their meaning and as an artistic creation. Often the first thing people want to do is to write their name, to gain a sense of identity and establish their place as a member of society.
"Calligraphy is a very special way of making marks. You can't go back and polish them up, you just get one go. We have nothing quite like it in the UK."
The visit has been sponsored by the Tanpopo-No-Ye Foundation, who set up the UK Japan Forum on Arts, created by people with disabilities. Its aim is to exchange and share useful information and experience in the field of arts and disabilities.
Note to editors: The Symposium and Workshops are on Tuesday 11 January 2000 at the Richard Attenborough Centre for Disability and the Arts, University of Leicester, Lancaster Road, Leicester. The Symposium runs from 10.30 am to 1 pm, preceded by a Calligraphy Workshop from 9.30 - 10.30 am, run by Hiroko Uemura for Richard Attenborough Centre students. At 2.30 - 3.30 pm there will be a Workshops for Symposium members, given by Meiyo Minami. Further details are available from: Sian Thomas, Organising Tutor for Sculpture, or Alan Caine, Associate Director, Richard Attenborough Centre for Disability and the Arts, University of Leicester, telephone +44 (0)116 252 2455, facsimile +44 (0)116 252 5165, minicom +44 (0)116 223 1520, email RACentre@le.ac.uk.
Richard Attenborough Centre for Disability and the Arts
Formally opened by Diana, Princess of Wales in May 1997, the Richard Attenborough Centre is open to everybody, but has a special focus on people with disabilities and other members of the public who may have found access to arts education difficult. Its educational programme brings together a wide range of people within the community and includes courses in art, music, dance and drama, as well as concerts, performances and exhibitions.
The Tanpopo-No-Ye Foundation
The "Able Arts Movement" Foundation was established in 1976 in Nara, Western Japan. Its objectives were to build and manage first a service centre and later a residential facility where able-bodied and disabled people could live and work together. Since 1987, the independent living centre and day service centre have been managed by the Wataboshi-no-Kai, the Social Welfare Corporation that was created subsequently. The Tanpopo-No-Ye foundation ha thus concentrated on the planning and promotion of various activities and events in the creative arts with the aim of supporting the self-realisation of people with disabilities both in Japan and internationally.
The Group Monjiya
The Group Monjiya uses the medium of Japanese calligraphy as a means of creative expression for people with disabilities. It is based at the Tanpopo-No-Ye and is led and directed by the professional calligrapher, Meiyo Minami, who started classes there in 1992. There are now ten members. Since 1996, the year of the formal creation of Group Monjiya, they have had exhibitions all over Japan and have been praised for the quality of their work. This is based on the expressive power of each character as a visual and verbal concept and the ability of calligraphy to be a vehicle for individual creative expression for a population for whom more conventional means of communication are often difficult or unsatisfactory.
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