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On Friday 15th July Sarah and I headed to London to visit the Victoria Miro gallery to see Yayoi Kusama and to the V&A to see Elytra. This was a real treat as we’d spent the last few weeks in my lounge making big knitting. After meeting our friend Owain we headed to the Victoria Miro to be met by a rather large queue which was a surprised as we’d never queued for exhibition for. We decided to stick with the queue as we had come specially to see the exhibition.

Yayoi Kunama is now 87 years old, after living in New York during the 1960’s she returned to Tokyo in the 1970’s where she still lives and works today. Her work is a reflection on her own hallucinations and is most famously recognised for her repeating polkadots and bright colours. For this exhibition she’s created infinity rooms using mirrors and her distinctive style on the sculptures inside.

The reason for the queue was that Kusama’s artworks were within small boxes, a bit walk in fridge size and only two could go in at a time. We first show All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, one of my favourite titles ever! The infinity room included bright yellow pumpkin sculptures which were covered in polkadots, with the mirrors the pumpkins then repeated them selves feeling as it they carried on for ever. It gave me a feeling of joy of happiness, looking at these brightly coloured pumpkins which repeated and repeated and repeated. I was totally immersed within the space. It really felt like a celebration of her love of pumpkins. As the exhibition was so busy you were sadly only allowed a minute within All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, I would have liked the opportunity to stay and enjoy the exhibit for longer.

The second space was Chandelier of Grief this was a larger space but still not very big, maybe more shed sided but in a circular formation. In the centre of the room there was a rotating chandelier and light hit it dramatic patterns where repeated on the mirror walls and ceiling. For me this space didn’t feel as intimate with it being that larger and I have also loved her use of bright colours and polkadots which this doesn’t have. The repeated patterns are very beautiful and delicate, perhaps too pretty for my liking.

Out in the garden the pond was full of reflective balls which was a nice touch to the exhibition, Narcissus Garden. It brought together the mirror theme, the polkadots and repetition in contrast to the other pieces it was in a very open, natural space meaning the reflections where ever changing as the balls moved across the water in the breeze. Narcissus Garden complimented Where the Lights in My Heart Go again the size of a walk in freeze but this time mirrored outside as well as in. Inside the eternal space small wholes let in light and these light spots then repeated into infinity. In the black room it felt much like being in space or on a hill with no lights completely immersed in stars. I imagine this space is ever changing as well based on the weather and amount of light outside.

These were very immersive spaces, that immersiveness is very much created by the use of mirrors. Sarah and I have been very interested in the idea of creating kaleidoscopes in our work. After today’s trip this is something I think we should very much pursue.

After walking along the deck we entered Parasol unit where we saw Rana Begum, The Space Between. I feel very lucky to have walked into Begum’s work as it is very relevant to our project, full of brilliant style and I didn’t know it was there! This is Begum’s first major solo show in the UK so that makes it even luckier. Until know I’d not come across her, I am so pleased I have as her spatial awareness is so good. We firstly saw a large installation that she’d created using stacks of metal fencing in tones of red, yellow and grey to build a large installation that you walked within, of course I loved this because it’s an installation but what I really liked was her wall pieces. From the front they looked flat but as you approached them from a different side they are three dimensional, thin metal columns painted with hidden geometric patterns. It’s quite hard to explain and sadly I didn’t take any photos so your just going to have to go and see them, The Space Between is on until 18th Sept 16. There was a second installation which used UV lighting turning Sarah’s team very white which I did take a photo of but I think she’d appreciate it been shared on the internet. Within the installation where bright geometric shapes that felt like they could be made from the same metal as glow stick bands. The UV light worked really well with them. The UV light is an interesting idea for immersive installations as the audience can play within the light, maybe with pens, white clothing or glow sticks. I was really pleased we saw Rana Begum’s work.

Victoria & Albert 

On to our second Victoria gallery, this time the V&A in the garden. After a good tea and a slice of cake watching children get very wet and beginning slightly concerned about being made wet by the children standing on the water shoots we went to enjoy Elytra a filament pavilion.

This summer the V&A are celebrating engineering and Elytra is at the very forefront of engineering with the way it’s made, by a robot using fibre glass threads. The robot is there in situ as the pavilion is responsive. There are sensors embedded within the pavilion that track the way the space is inhabited, the temperatures, and the structural forces (all anonymously). Expanding the canopy the robot creates new components in response to the collected data, the collected data informs the shape of the new component.

For me it is the shape created from the stringed fibre glass within each component and the pattern created from all the components together. The stringed fibre glasses form feels similar to mine and Sarah’s Diamond Art For Ever. The shape is inspired by elytra and is the filament structure of the shells of flying beetles. Using fibre glass makes it is very strong and very light.

The robots winding technique created by the designers doesn’t require a moulds unlike other construction methods. There is no limit to the amount of spun shapes it can create and it keeps waste to a minimum. This could be a construction method of the future.

This is a very different interactive spaces to any that Sarah and I have considered. I really like Elytra for it’s visual qualities and the way it is engineered, it doesn’t have an imitate feeling of interaction that I think we’re looking for. Our audience aim is families and communities and I think they need a quick reaction, although this is very clever it takes for the interactive element to take place. I feel this piece will be very popular with people who are interested in engineering, design and architecture.