In 余白の美: Yohaku no bi (the beauty of empty space) Japanese Australian artist, Elysha Rei uses hand cut paper and principles of Japanese garden design to explore transcultural identity, family history and the silent narratives of Japanese-Australian migration experience.
Drawing upon ancestral connections to Tea Master Katagiri Sekishu, who used tea ceremony as a setting for diplomatic discussions between Samurai and enemy generals, as well as the oral histories of Rei’s Japanese war bride grandmother and Australian soldier grandfather, 余白の美: Yohaku no bi (the beauty of empty space) honours the gesture of peace and diplomacy between two former enemies – Australia and Japan.
Located in The Condensery’s Bomb Shelter, a space historically used to protect and store archives during World War II, Rei’s paper cutting practice of 18 years is given new context to consider the role of paper in archival processes, intergenerational legacies of racial tension and the complexities of diasporic identity.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Elysha Rei (pronounced eh-lee-sha ray) is a Japanese-Australian artist that explores narratives of cultural identity, site-specific history and environmental elements through paper cutting and public art. She has a Bachelor of Visual Arts from USQ (2008), a Master’s in Business Administration (2018) and is currently undertaking a PhD exploring how Nikkei Australian identity is archived through creative paper cutting practice. Rei has created and exhibited work, curated exhibitions and managed cultural spaces across Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Netherlands, Thailand, and the US. She founded the international artist residency program, Sam Rit Residency in rural Thailand in 2014, and co-founded the Artist-Run-Initiative Made Creative Space Toowoomba from 2011-2013. She has been an invited artist in residence for Museum of Brisbane, Artspace Mackay, and Barcaldine Arts Council. In 2018 was the recipient of an Asialink Arts Creative Exchange in Japan, and is an artist fellow with the Past Wrongs Future Choices global research project based in Canada.
IMAGE: ELYSHA REI, CAMELIA BONSAI (DETAIL), 2022, HAND CUT PAPER.