Souzou: Outsider Art from Japan

What is Souzou: Outsider Art from Japan?

more than 300 works for the first major display of Japanese Outsider Art in the UK. The 46 artists represented in the show are residents and day attendees at social welfare institutions across Japan. The wonderfully diverse collection comprises ceramics, textiles, paintings, sculpture and drawings.

‘Souzou’ has no direct translation in English but a dual meaning in Japanese: written one way, it means creation, and in another it means imagination. Both meanings allude to a force by which new ideas are born and take shape in the world.’ Wellcome Collection

This is the 2013 spring exhibition for the Wellcome Collection, it features over three hundred pieces of outsider art from Japan.

The exhibition is split into six parts (language, making, representation, relationships, culture and possibility) and explores and questions our perception of Outsider Art in an attempt to guide us in understanding the diversity of Outsider Art.


The space was well laid out and different sections were clearly labeled. There was a change in the coloured clips used to display information when the section changed and I thought that the little details like that were nice.

On entering the exhibition you are greeted by an information board which puts the exhibition in context, immediately following is the language section which I am not to sure about as it wasn’t the most engaging of sections to start off with. After that the exhibition improves towards the middle/end as the middle section has the most interesting and engaging content.

I have worked on a similar exhibition before so I had some understanding  of  Outsider Art however art is still something I struggle to understand so the information that was provided to me helped me a great deal as the artefacts exhibited were not always technically amazing. Further information and an extended introduction is given in the free leaflet and makes a reflective light read on this exhibition.


More information


Death: A Self-Portrait

What is Death: A Self-Portrait?

‘… major winter exhibition showcases some 300 works from a unique collection devoted to the iconography of death and our complex and contradictory attitudes towards it. Assembled by Richard Harris, a former antique print dealer based in Chicago, the collection is spectacularly diverse, including art works, historical artefacts, scientific specimens and ephemera from across the world Rare prints by Rembrandt, Dürer and Goya will be displayed alongside anatomical drawings, war art and antique metamorphic postcards; human remains will be juxtaposed with Renaissance vanitas paintings and twentieth century installations celebrating Mexico’s Day of the Dead. From a group of ancient Incan skulls, to a spectacular chandelier made of 3000 plaster-cast bones by British artist Jodie Carey, this singular collection, by turns disturbing, macabre and moving, opens a window upon our enduring desire to make peace with death. .’ – Wellcome Collection

This huge exhibition that was at the Wellcome Collection covered many aspects of death. The objects are part of Richard Harris’ private collection and vary from memento moris to the objects used to celebrate death. One of the five rooms was filled with beautiful pictures and portraits with the opposite side of the room displaying the horrific effects of war and violent deaths.


This was an amazing exhibition for two reasons; one, the quality of the artefacts on display and the second for the amount that was on display. It is a pity I visited it quite late otherwise I think I may have gone twice.


I really like the leaflets this exhibition had….


Wellcome Collection
Time Out
The Guardian


SUPERHUMAN looks at human enhancement since the 600 BCE to 2050. It challenges our perceptions of enhancement, for example the humble glasses; it helps those with weaker sight to have near-perfect vision and has been around for so long we hardly think anything of it. Also think of the iphone, a classic example of how a brand and technology combined has quickly become the norm and a must to have any advantage in life. Other case studies in this exhibition include the famous Icarus who flew too close to the sun, the poor children who were victims of Thalidomide and superheroes such as Ironman.

The theme of heroes is an interesting one as they are portrayed as the ultimate humans. Charlotte Jarvis created a short film exploring the lengths some may take to enhance themselves. This fictional film is a dark reminder of how what seems to be an innocent act can go badly wrong.

This is one of the best free exhibitions I have seen as it was comprehensive it covered a variety of mediums and opinions not to mention challenged the way we think about the object and products we use on a daily basis.

SUPERHUMAN is currently showing at the Wellcome Collection until October the 16th.
{Official Site}