yokai on tfl

Young V&A Breathe New Life Into Lost London Umbrellas

Collaborating with AMV BBDO, the museum unveils a major new creative installation: 'Lost and Found Yōkai'. Transforming forgotten umbrellas into playful supernatural beings from Japanese folklaw.

By Emma Vernon

Inspired by Young V&A’s current exhibition, 'Japan: Myths to Manga', which runs until September, the museum has teamed up with AMV BBDO to bring to life its first major creative installation 'Lost and Found Yōkai'.

The collaboration has brought together artists and designers from a host of disciplines to joyously transform umbrellas previously forgotten on London’s transport networks, and donated via Transport for London’s Lost Property department, into yōkai.

These are a class of supernatural beings and entities abound in Japanese folklore, literature, art and popular culture, in particular, the kasa-obake or umbrella monster. These playful spooks are a type of tsukumogami, everyday objects that receive a spirit and find new life as yōkai on their 100th birthday. 

The free indoor installation takes visitors on a journey through 'Kasa-obake Alley', where umbrellas once lost around the bustling streets of London, now dance with life at Young V&A. Using the umbrellas as their canvas, a host of artists and designers have been invited to breathe a new life and soul into each of the once forgotten objects, gifting them individually with a new spirit, and transforming them into yōkai, bursting with individual creativity and colour. 

Participating artists and designers include Andrew Kenny and John Booth, Anna Burns, Clara Chu, Nicole Chui, Damselfrau, Jessica Dance, Lilah Fowler, IKUKO Iwamoto, Rio Kobayashi, Hannah Lim, Anzhela Hayrabedyan and Luca Grosso, Kristi Minchin, Murugiah, Annie Frost Nicholson, Yuko Kondo, Dame Zandra Rhodes, Lydia Kasumi Shirreff, Sam Wilde and Naing Lin Oo and Bethan Laura Wood.

William Newton, curator, Young V&A said: “At Young V&A, we’re all about imagination, having fun and making things. It has been inspiring to see these artists give life to lost things – to bring out the umbrellas’ inner yōkai – and transform them into a fabulous parade. Umbrellas are the most commonly misplaced item on London’s transport networks, and it’s great that we can give them a new use and bring a bit of Japan to the museum’s Town Square for our visitors to enjoy.”

Developed in partnership with creative agency AMV BDDO, 'Lost and Found Yōkai ' created a ‘procession’ that leads visitors to the entrance of 'Japan: Myths to Manga', located on Young V&A’s mezzanine floor. Suspended at a height, the ‘parade’ of yōkai appears to float, inviting young visitors to walk beneath, look up, and immerse themselves in the enchanting forms. 

AMV BBDO creatives Anzhela Hayrabedyan and Luca Grosso, added: “We were looking for a playful idea that links two cultures - the tales from Japanese Folklore with the rainy streets of London. Abandoned umbrellas reimagined as yōkai seemed to be the perfect bridge, blending Japan's storytelling with the wonderfully eclectic art scene of the UK. We hope the installation can spark the imagination of children of all ages, though we do apologise for any mischief they might cause!”

Participating artists and designers draw upon their individual practices, and personal sources of inspiration, to bring to life their selected umbrellas. Set designer and paper artist Lydia Kasumi Shirreff’s yōkai will embody a colourful bird in the style of a Japanese woodblock print, with patterned feathers floating in the air, created using paper with painted detail, inspired by her young son’s idea of creating a ‘rainbow bird’.

Artist John Booth collaborated with friend Andrew Kenny of London Embroidery Studio to create a yōkai inspired by Andrew’s two-year-old son Bobby, incorporating Bobby’s love of monsters and a visit to 'Japan: Myths to Manga'. A fun and playful monster, with a cheeky character, Bobby brings together components of lost umbrellas and offcuts from Andrew’s studio. Embroidery artist Nicole Chui will present 'Bae-Bae: the spirit of the Bae will guide your way', a creature inspired by a tiger, which channels the spirit of the people, and club mascot, of Baesianz FC, a football club for women, trans and non-binary people of Asian heritage, founded by Chui in 2022. 

To complement 'Lost and Found Yōkai', sound artist and designer Yuri Suzuki, in partnership with design and research studio Very Very Far Away, will present 'Yōkai Onomatopoeic Machine', a new sound and sculpture work, where sounds of supernatural Japan come to life through horn-shaped sculptures. At the entrance to 'Kasa-obake Alley', individual soundscapes will transport visitors to a world where every creak and rustle tells a tale, from the echo of distant drums to the sound of the shamisen. 

The march of these weird and wonderful Yōkai continues through the streets of London, this time across an OOH campaign. Photographed by Emily Stein, the billboards expose the umbrellas’ cheeky new personalities, re-visiting the same locations where they were forgotten. The campaign will also showcase making of content featuring the artists creating their Yōkai on social media.


Client: Victoria & Albert Museum

Brand: Young V&A

Campaign title: Lost and Found Yōkai Installation

Client name: Olivia Miller, Emma Zeitlyn (Marketing Team)

Client name: William Newton (Young V&A Curator)

Creative Agency: AMV BBDO

CCO: Nicholas Hulley and Nadja Lossgott

Creative Director: Nicholas Hulley and Nadja Lossgott

Creative Team:  Anzhela Hayrabedyan and Luca Grosso

Agency Planning Team: Margaux Revol

Agency Account Team: Suad Abdinasir and Nick Andrew

Agency Producers: Alexis Sun and Kirstie Johnstone         

Media Agency: Anything is Possible         

Production Company (for sound installation): Very Very Far Away Ltd

Sound Installation Artist: Yuri Suzuki

Photographer: Emily Stein 


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