An International Meeting on the Study of Oriental Lacquerware (1985)
The Tokyo National Research Institute of Cultural Properties and the Getty Conservation Institute cosponsored an international meeting for the study of oriental lacquer ware (urushi) in Japan in June 1985. The meeting was the first opportunity for urushi specialists to exchange knowledge of historical, technical, and scientific issues, thereby promoting mutual understanding and interest in the conservation of this material. Specialists from the People's Republic of China, Czechoslovakia, Germany, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the United States—as well as specialists and observers from Japan—were in attendance, including conservators, conservation scientists, art historians, curators, artists and architects.
Twenty-two papers were presented covering the historical aspects of urushi objects, the techniques and conservation of urushi decoration, and scientific and technical examination of the objects. The discussion covered a wide range of topics, including the difference in approach of Western and Asian conservation specialists on issues such as reversibility. The need for additional conservation training, scientific research, art historical study, and published information on urushi was also discussed.
The meeting included visits to museums, temple collections, workshops, conservation studios, and manufacturers of materials and tools. Participants were able to view the entire process of urushi production, from the gathering of the tree sap to the completion of the object. The experience was highly informative and instrumental in establishing a network among urushi experts.
Following the conference, the GCI published Urushi: Proceedings of the 1985 Urushi Study Group that provided in-depth examinations into the history, techniques, and conservation of this Far Eastern lacquer ware.