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  • Writer's pictureNigel

An unusual woman 珍しい女の人


Four years ago, in May 2018, I was in the city of Matsumoto, which is in Nagano Prefecture, central Japan. I had borrowed a bright red bicycle from my Ryokan, my hotel 旅館, and was using it to get around the town. I had seen the famous 16thc. castle, and even walked around the Kaichi Elementary School. This curious remnant of the Meiji era is built in an extraodinary mixture of Western and Japanese style architecture and was only closed as late as 1963.

So, ice cream in hand, I was wondering, what more was there to see in this town? The art gallery perhaps? It seemed a long way off, and was probably pretty provincial I thought - no comparison to Tokyo.

Well, I locked up my bike on the road outside and walked in.

Oh wow. How wrong I was. I didn't expect this. It had an extensive exhibition of the works of Yayoi Kusama. Who is Yayoi Kusama? She is a highly original, quirky artist who left Japan in the 1950s, finding the (then) role of women in post war Japan too constrained and traditional. She headed for New York, where she hit the art scene in the 1960s with wide-ranging creative practices that encompassed installation, painting, sculpture, fashion design and writing. But it wasn't plain sailing. As a child she had become having hallucinations (later diagnosed as a medical condition) where her surroundings sort of dissolved into dots - into a sort of infinity. Her way of dealing with this was to express this phenoma in art. And it just so happens that the town where I was wheeling my bicycle, Matsumoto, was where she was born in 1929. Her mother would have taken her on Sunday strolls around the castle no doubt, and she probably attended a school very similar to the Kaichi Elementary School. Here are some photos of her in 1960s New York.........

草間 彌生. ニューヨーク 1961.

....and as a child back in Matsumoto....

松本市. 子供の時.

Why am I reminiscing about this artist now? Quite simply because on Monday we found that the Tate Modern gallery in London was showing just two of her installations...This photo, which appears on your screen, is a far cry from the immersive experience of actually standing in one of these mirror rooms. ミラールーム.

...and even now, as an elderly woman, she can say things like this.....自分がいる時間よりも以前の、消え去っていく時間枠に焦点を当てること、そして、自分の限界を考えることは不要で意味を持たない。だからこそ私は、自分自身の死後も輝き続ける作品を作ることを決してやめないのである。

She looks weird doesn't she? but she obviously is a brave woman of strong character, ready to break out of the mould of society. Amazing. An Inspiration.

Exhibitions make me hungry, so later I headed up to the 5th floor of the Tate Modern to get a snack. I got a snack all right, but I think I was paying for the view rather than the snack......eating out in London can be extraordinarily expensive....

The building of the Tate Modern itself is an old power station, designed by the same architect (Sir Gilbert Scott) who was responsible for Liverpool's Anglican cathedral and the iconic red telephone box. Approaching it from the Southwark side I was glad to see that some of the old Southwark decrepit atmosphere had not disappeared....😉

with the ancient landing steps down to the Thames......テムズ川

The space inside the former turbine hall is like a cathedral. Pictures before and after conversion to an art gallery....前後..


pretty cool nicht wahr?

......and this was an art event inspired by villagers sweeping the paths to the temples in Burma......

So, Yoyoi Kusama, your work has found a good home for this summer 😉.

After leaving the Tate Modern I walked back over Southwark bridge through the city, passing an entrance to the new Elizabeth line at Liverpool Street Station. It was to open the next day, on May 24th. The lull before the storm, I thought!

Then the overland train back home to Walthamstow from Liverpool Street Station - a fine example of Victorian engineering itself. リバプールストリート駅



Did you enjoy this post? この投稿を読んでいただきありがとうございます。 新しい投稿のお知らせを受け取りたい場合は、上部の購読フォームに記入してください。 ありがとう!Nigel.😊 do subscribe if you want new posts automatically in your inbox. How about forwarding on to a friend ? Thank you Akari-san for translating Yoyoi Kusama's words!

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