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Spotting and following the traces of China and Japan in European culture can be fascinating and rewarding. As Edward Said posited in his 1978 book Orientalism, the way ‘the East’ is perceived in Europe often reveals Western preoccupations and preconceptions. In this talk Emile de Bruijn will identify examples of orientalism in historic British gardens and parks. He will show how elements of Chinese and Japanese culture and nature were appropriated and used, and how the perception of East Asia in British gardens changed over time.

Emile de Bruijn studied Japanese at Leiden University and museology at Essex University. He works as a curator for the National Trust, advising on decorative art and East Asian collections. Among his recent publications are Chinese Wallpaper in Britain and Ireland (2017) and Borrowed Landscapes: China and Japan in the Historic Houses and Gardens of Britain and Ireland (2023).

All welcome- this seminar is free to attend but booking is required.