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Published 20th Jun 2017

Gill Moore

Teesside will be turning to the Far East this summer as a three day festival commemorating the work of eminent Victorian designer Christopher Dresser celebrates the forgotten links between the region and Japan.

Christopher Dresser was the first European designer to visit Japan after the re-opening of the trading links between the two countries and this had a strong influence on his Linthorpe pottery.

DresserFest, organised by the Christopher Dresser Society, Teesside University, and the Dorman Museum, is a series of events taking place from 30 June to 2 July, celebrating the 140th anniversary of Dresser’s visit to Japan.

It sits alongside a six month exhibition at the Dorman Museum which features a newly acquired copy of Dresser’s account of Japan, with annotations in his own hand. ‘Japan, its Architecture, Art and Art Manufactures’ has been loaned to the museum by collector Harry Lyons. It sits alongside two books Dresser brought back from Japan, which are on loan from the Wellcome Library in London and pieces from the British Museum.

DresserFest begins on Friday 30 June at 4.00pm at Teesside University’s Constantine Gallery with a selling exhibition of Dresser pieces. It is followed on Saturday 1 July with a symposium in The Curve.

Keynote speaker for the symposium is Wider Halen, director of design and decorative arts at the National Museum in Oslo who will be examining Dresser and the Anglo-Japanese style. Other speakers include Zoe Hendon - Head of Collections, Museum of Domestic Design & Architecture (MoDA) and Jane McQuitty- Alberta College of Art and Design.

On Sunday 2 July, a family fun day will be held at The Dorman Museum to celebrate Dresser’s birthday and the new exhibition ‘Tokyo to Tees’ which runs until the end of the year.

Paul Denison, Principal Lecturer in design history at Teesside University, said: "This is the second DresserFest which we hold biennially. It is vitally important that we recognise Middlesbrough’s contribution to the modern visual landscape of Britain through Dresser who was one of the most influential designers of the modern period, standing proudly alongside William Morris and Charles Rennie Mackintosh."

Gill Moore, Curator at the Dorman Museum, added: "DresserFest is establishing itself as a landmark celebration of the life and work of Christopher Dresser. Whether you’re a Dresser fan already or discovering him for the first time we can guarantee that you won’t be disappointed."

Tickets for the symposium cost £15 for members of the Christopher Dresser Society and £25 for non-members. More information and how to buy tickets can be found at https://dressersociety.wordpress.com/dresserfest2/



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