Usagi Kannon

Usagi Kannon, 2012/19, patinated bronze, ca. 340 x 159 x 138 cm © Leiko Ikemura, VG Bild-Kunst Bonn 2021. / Photo: Sainsbury Centre.

We are delighted to unveil this majestic bronze sculpture by Japanese-Swiss artist Leiko Ikemura as the latest artwork to join our expanding Sculpture Park.

Usagi Kannon, which translates as ‘Rabbit Bodhisattva of Mercy’, is a towering figure with rabbit ears and a human face. A recurrent and significant motif in Ikemura’s work, the rabbit represents rebirth, fertility and renewal. This hybrid character was first created in 2011 in response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan and the subsequent reported birth defects in animals. With a crying face in mourning, the artwork is dedicated to the people and living beings who died and suffered losses in the tragedy.

Usagi Kannon offers shelter through their bell-shaped skirt, acting as a protective shrine. Once inside, the small holes in the skirt shed star-like rays of light creating an encompassing universe around the viewer.

The grounds of the University of East Anglia, within which the Sainsbury Centre and Sculpture Park sit, is home to the longest studied rabbit colony. Usagi Kannon is the most recent example of artwork interacting with the natural surroundings and biodiversity on site.


Source: Sainsbury Centre


Sainsbury Centre
University of East Anglia,
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