East to East: Art and Craft with an Asian Influence

23 April - 1 October 2023

East to East is an exhibition of artists and makers based in East Anglia, who share their appreciation for the aesthetic and techniques originating in Chinese and Japanese art and craft. Open 11am to 5pm Wednesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, Sundays and Bank Holiday Mondays.   Click on Works top right to view more about the exhibitors.

Artists and makers taking part explore how a natural colour palette, handcrafted techniques in glass and ceramics, and structured textiles like weaving have struck a chord in the east of England, finding favour with an audience looking for more sustainable, design principles. The contributing artists and makers trace the most recent stages of the long and winding path between eastern and western art and craft, to the present day. They encompass sculpture and handmade objects, as well as paintings on canvas, wooden panel, paper or fabric, ceramics – with expertise in Japanese and Chinese techniques like Raku, porcelain, decorative glaze and lacquer work, folded and cut paper and woodblock prints.


Keron Beattie
Laura Huston
Karen Bek
Linda Jamieson
Esmond Bingham
Andrew Jones
Mary Blue
Lizzie Kimbley
Claire Cansick
Katharina Klug
Simon Carter
Liz McGowan
Katarzyna Coleman
Stephen Murfitt
Helen Derbyshire
Ella Porter
Karen Downing
Tim Plunkett
Amanda Edgcombe
Tassie Russell
Victoria Fenn
Victoria Sebag
Jonathan Gibbs
Yve Slater
Melanie Goemans
Nessie Stonebridge
Steve Gore-Rowe
Annie Turner
Kathryn Hearn
Jack Wheeler
Stewart Hearn
Steven Will
Jane Hindmarch
Cecilia Willis
Ruth Howes
Peter Wylie


East to East will accompany an exhibition of sculpture and paintings by Sean Scully at Houghton Hall – Smaller Than The Sky, also opening on 23 April and running into the autumn, until 29 October 2023. The exhibition will encompass Scully’s outdoor sculptures displayed in the grounds and parkland. Also included will be a selection of recent paintings, works on paper, and a few key works from earlier in his career.
Like Sean Scully, exhibitors taking part in East to East share an aesthetic that is free of excess. Most of the artists and makers follow in the tradition of creating their work by hand, using techniques that require skill in the manual manipulation of material.
East to East proposes a bridge between art from the east and what is happening here, now, in East Anglia. We hope that it will help lay to rest assumptions about the UK being a more isolated place post Brexit, resistant to cultural exchange. Historically, this was not the case. Early global connections like the silk road were established long before the growth of maritime trade during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries allowed goods and customs to spread incrementally between east and west.
A burgeoning network of merchants developed supplying markets with imported silk, porcelain, tea, spices, and lacquerware in quantity as demand grew throughout Europe. In France the Impressionist and post-Impressionist movement, including artists like Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin and a little later, Henri Matisse, were heavily influenced by Japanese art, particularly Ukiyo-e, or colour woodblock prints as well as ceramics mimicking traditional Chinese designs.
Western contact with China introduced new styles in painting, decor, ceramics, and garden and landscape design, during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, which flourished in the eighteenth. Europe’s infatuation with all things Japanese only took hold in the latter half of the nineteenth century upon the reopening of Japan to diplomacy and trade in 1853.
As Europe grew wealthy through its economic expansion from industrialisation and colonialism, naval merchants began importing Japanese artwork and objects in regular consignments. Within twenty years the birth of the English Aesthetic Movement cemented interest in Japanese culture. Their design principles, including approaches to subject choice, perspective, and colour, became distinctive features in European art and craft. The cultural significance of art from the east has travelled on throughout the twentieth century championed by figures like the potter Bernard Leach and, designer and silversmith Christopher Dresser, becoming part of modernism’s lingua franca, which has meant the influence has remained a feature in the arts and crafts to this day.


East to East: The Stables, Houghton Hall, Norfolk, PE31 6UE, from 23rd April to 1 October 2023
The Sean Scully exhibition Smaller Than The Sky has been curated by art historian and museum director, Sean Rainbird, formerly director of the National Gallery of Ireland (2012-2022) and a senior curator at Tate.


Visit HOUGHTONHALL.COM to book tickets
A ticket to gain access to the walled garden and the East to East exhibition in the stables, and the café does not include access to the Sean Scully exhibition in the house and garden.
Opening days and times

JULY, AUGUST and SEPTEMBER: Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday, Thursday, plus Bank Holiday Monday 28th August
Ends Sunday October 1

On the opening days listed above, the following timings apply:
11am – gates open for access to the Walled Garden, Model Soldier Museum, old stables, deer park, shop and café.
12pm – House, exhibition and West Lawn sculpture exhibition opens
4pm – last entry at the gates, last entry to the house
4.30pm – house closes
5pm – Walled Garden, Café, and outside areas close