Standing in The Centre of The Universe
Updated: Jan 12, 2022
“In the midst of this historic menace, a brief burst of light points to the future”. Kusama 2020
This is not a review of the exhibition, but my reaction to it and how visiting inspired me to create.
Yayoi Kusama's work spans over 9 decades and she remains one of Japan's most prominent artists to this day. She is a mixed media artist who is most commonly associated with painting spots, but has also created some stunning and iconic installations in her time. Her work feels passionate, creative and free, and I feel like when viewing Kusama's work I am seeing through her eyes and feeling how she feels, which really is every artists dream.
I find Yayoi Kusama fascinating. She speaks openly about her struggle with mental health and uses her connection with art to cope with daily pain and anxiety. She spends days on end painting dots and nets, expressing that in the universe we are all connected.
You can find out more about Yayoi Kusama on the Tate’s website (link below) where they have posted a short video about the artist as well as information and further points of research.
The infinity mirror rooms invite you to step into the world of Kusama in the form of two small art installation rooms, both completely different and visited in very small groups.The experience feels very personal. With each room the door closes behind you and you are transported into another world. You can this exhibition at The Tate Modern in London until May 2022.
The first, named Infinity mirrored room- Filled with the Brilliance of Life, is pitch black, save for what feels like thousands of spherical fairy lights in many colours, these are then reflected from the walls and the ceiling and even the floor which has a shallow pool of water (save for the path) reflecting the lights upwards like city lights reflected on a river. The lights
intermittently switch off and then reappear in a different set of colours. You can’t actually identify the source of the lights as everything is reflected. It feels initially confusing and then calming like you are standing in the centre of the universe, in a trance, surrounded by life but also nothingness, infinity. I felt lost in the few moments I stood there, seeing images of myself reflected amongst the lights. After 2 minutes the door is opened once again and you are suddenly brought back to reality.
The second room, named Chandelier of Grief, is just as captivating. A single chandelier hangs suspended from the ceiling surrounded by slightly angled mirrors on the walls and below lays almost the same hexagonal shape. Peering down into the abyss you can see the glistening chandelier repeated for what feels like an eternity. The chandelier rotates slowly and the lights shining onto it are reflected around the room. The ceiling glitters white lights that reminded me of stars in the night sky. The second room creates a completely different atmosphere to the first, but both somehow felt linked together.
Leaving the exhibition, I felt that all I could see dots everywhere, all different colours, and this gave me a very strong urge to create.
My first thought was of those tiny mirrors you find in Indian embroidery. They are so beautiful and reflective and surrounded in colour. I later discovered these are called Shisha mirrors and they come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. I actually found how to add them to your embroidery work in one of my books, but there are plenty of YouTube videos out there too if you fancy giving it a go yourself.
I wanted to create a spray of dots and mirrors surrounded by colours in a small space. I used a small embroidery hoop with a pitch black fabric as the background. I then proceeded to add mirror after mirror along with small French knots in between the spaces. I also created some dots just using embroidery thread woven and wrapped around repeatedly. It was really fun to just be free and expressive and see what happens.
Once I was satisfied with the overall layout ( I could have kept going for ever), I took the fabric off the hoop. Next I took the embroidered fabric and covered a small button fascinator I had created previously from felt. Once it was lined and a band was added it was complete and ready to wear.
I really like how this piece turned out. It has a good depth of feeling and interest and I love especially how the final, curved shape of the hat gives the Shisha mirrors more life and dimension. As I was photographing the finished piece, the light continuously reflected off the mirrors and created darts of light which would change as I moved it.
I hope you like the end result! It is a unique piece, named "the centre of the universe" and will be available to to buy on my website from 11/1/22.
Also you can view some of the making process on my instagram reels.