Art Without Heroes
William Morris Gallery, 2024

Exhibition graphics and art direction for the exhibition Art Without Heroes at the William Morris Gallery, London, curated by Roisin Inglesby.

Art Without Heroes celebrates the influential Japanese folk-craft movement, Mingei, coined by Japanese philosopher Yanagi Sōetsu in the 1920s and 1930s. Mingei, meaning ‘the art of people,’ highlights the aesthetic purity of traditional craft objects, anonymous artisans, and a simpler way of life. Reflecting the ideals of the British Arts and Crafts movement, Mingei responded to rapid industrialisation and engaged with the works of William Morris and his contemporaries. The exhibition features objects from the 19th century to contemporary interpretations of Mingei’s core values.

The exhibition identity utilises the sustainable practice of woodblock printing, a craft central to Mingei, resulting in designs that were entirely made by hand. With guidance from artist Wuon-Gean Ho, the identity translates the Japanese roadside typeface Hiragino Sans and exhibited objects, from different time periods, into woodblock carvings and prints. Workshops were proposed where visitors print A3 versions of the posters using the woodblocks created for the exhibition, as a means to celebrate the collective craftsmanship of people. In line with the ‘Art Without Heroes’ ethos, captions emphasise the object over the maker, placing names at the base of each caption.

Designed in collaboration with Hayatsu Architects, the design explores more sustainable methods of exhibition-making. Hayatsu Architects repurposed existing display cabinets, wrapping them in hessian and clay mixed with sand, straw, and mineral pigments, allowing for restoration post-show. These plinths, varying in colour, signify different thematic sections of the exhibition and inform the visual identity’s palette. Recycled paper and hand-painted signs were used for the majority of the exhibition graphics.

Photography by Hannah Thual & Thomas Adank