Project Overview

This exhibition by British artist/writer/cook Jake Tilson and Japanese photographer/cultural commentator Kyoichi Tsuzuki was an evocative exploration of the complex cultural and culinary significance of the eel in Japan and the UK. Featuring a selection of photographic images, audio works and found objects drawn from historical contexts and everyday popular culture, the project combined Tilson’s highly personal and eclectic approach to his subject (as seen in his narrative cookbook A Tale of 12 Kitchens, 2006) with Tsuzuki’s more anthropological observations (evident in his photographic publications Roadside Japan, 1996 and Tokyo Style, 1993).

Inspired by the extraordinary migratory patterns and the continually transforming life-cycle of the eel, A Net of Eels offered a series of light-hearted and engaging encounters with the diverse histories and cultural associations of this extraordinary creature – from Tilson’s soundscapes of the frantic market banter of Tokyo fishmarkets and the tranquil waterside sounds of the Thames and Sumida rivers, to Tsuzuki’s weird and wonderful photographic depictions of Japan’s numerous Eel Shrines, and Tilson’s cabinet of curiosities presenting everything from canned and stuffed eel, to postage stamps, action figures, architectural models and comics featuring the creature.

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