Exhibition review by Laura R Collins
In this Place, In this Time
The Crypt Gallery, St Pancras Church, Euston, London
30th August – 8 September 2013
From the moment I walked into “In this Place, In this Time”, a recent exhibition held at the atmospheric Crypt Gallery, St. Pancras Church, Euston, London, I felt that I had entered a secret collection of hidden treasures.
Mindfully curated by Aki Moriuchi, an artist/potter/ceramist, five artists from Japan, USA and the UK joined together to present their individual and collective interpretation of place and time, interweaving culture, identity. order, language, community and environment, together with dismantling and reassembling the cycle of life.
On entering the Crypt, my eyes fell upon the organic sculpted porcelain wall hanging vases. “Let’s have some flowers on the trees” by ceramic artist, Michi Suzuki, which gave me a sense of both being grounded and transported into an ethereal space. This feeling was carried along with me to the back of the Crypt, where Michi used porcelain to create a number of different shapes which evoke a delicate beauty and enduring quality. These installations appeared to me as a diamond of blue and white leaves in “The sounds that my feet remember”, as precious shells and rare flowers laid out in lines in. “Now is the happiest time”, and strewn over stairs like confetti in “Sunny Days”.
Sam Wibberley, an innovative artist from the UK presented a thought-provoking way of reflecting the movements, pattern, and language of time. From the works he exhibited, what especially stood out for me were the two wall panel boxed where each digit represents a different colour which in turn is linked to a familiar representation in word form; this was further explained on a postcard pulling together the numbers, colours and word associations. I find this an imaginative way of taking something from the every day and transforming it into an intricate yet logical interpretation of something intrinsically familiar.
Set within the main corridor walls of the Crypt, was artist Kenji Yamada’s video installation conveying the Tibetan Buddhist burial ritual: “Sky Burial”. This offers an opportunity to view the cycle of life, death and reincarnation through the spiritual lens of Tibetan Buddhist culture. One of the things I reflected upon whilst watching the video, was the synergy between the physical position of the installation set within the Crypt of an ancient church, and the theme of the video as well as the exhibition title, as all of these aspects create a timelessness which resonates with the idea of continuous renewal.
As I gazed upon photographer Bruce Hucko’s stunning black and white images of the Anasazi ruins: “Ancestral Homescapes” I felt myself stepping back into a community and environment I had never known, yet felt at home with. The images are awe-inspiring and boundless such as the “Road Canyon” and “Moon House” as well as the breath-taking roof in “Jack’s Place”. Bruce’s work fits perfectly into the historical setting of the Crypt, where the ancient touches the contemporary, and as memories of times past echo we are reminded that they do somehow live on.
In her key work: “Collecting Voices”* which is an in depth installation with paintings/mixed media on various sizes of canvas, based on a photo/text book with a sub-title “Art of Survival” *, Aki Moriuchi gives us an insight into the thoughts and feelings of Native Americans from a wide range of backgrounds. Through an assortment of different sized canvas works, Aki has transformed the ‘voices’ she collected and they have been reborn into visual form.
As example of this is the four oil on long canvas works.” The land grew on (Black & White), The land grew on (Red & Yellow), Never seen the sea (Black & White) and Part of our survival (Black & White). Another canvas work, where Aki uses mixed mediums with oil and object on canvas as part of the “Collecting Voices” installation is: “Then he went away in his old pick-up truck”. The text and an old numberplate on this canvas gives a feeling of the voice speaking out as one whom is with us, and drawing us in as we study the work. In her text installation, which is another part of the “ Collecting Voices” work, Aki uses earthy objects such as stones, and a few heartfelt words typed and stamped on Japanese paper, to communicate so much I was deeply moved by what I read in this installation regarding the healing strength of relatives, how essential it is to follow your dreams, the importance of belief, the relevance of land, and the difference between cultures. All of these expressions run throughout time and place and are as pertinent today as the place in time they originate from.
A separate project linked to the “Collecting Voices” theme is a series called “Disappearing Town” which comprises of four drawings which are based on a tiny desolate town in the US Aki visited often over the last few years, taking a number of photographs of the main street, which has now almost disappeared. Whether it is the ghostlike figures in “Three Faded Flowers” which reminded me of the three men who were thrown into the furnace by King Nebuchadnezzar and yet came out unscathed: (Daniel 3:26-27), or the intense ambience of the rich dark blue labyrinth in: “Wire and Sky”, Aki successfully connects the metaphysical and the unpredictability of life, where all that has been and will be merges into the now.
Aki’s transition from ceramics to different media, i.e. 2D, happened in 2010 after she moved from Cornwall to London. It was not something that was planned, as Aki had visited the same area in the US for a long while, so the shift to working on canvas/mixed mediums was an amazing surprise for her. “In this Place, In this Time” has been very important exhibition for Aki to be involved with as so much of what she had on display was her canvas/mixed mediums work.
What particularly fascinated me throughout the exhibition was how the artists were able to thoughtfully offer their own impression of what time and place means to them, whilst simultaneously working together as one to produce a panoramic view of these two ideas. “In this Place, In this Time” was truly a unique and powerful experience, and one that will remain with me regardless of time or place.
*Aki owes the sub-title to the Native American musician, Bill Miller.