Light and Dark Fantastic – and a lion above your head

Light and Dark Fantastic sculptureHere’s a little knowledge-of-London-art brainteaser for you. What do shining sea anemones, flowers and tendrils in Ealing have in common with this colourful lion in Wardour St?

Wardour St Lion

Photo by Hsiao-Chi and Kimiya Tsai-Yoshikawa

Did you get it? They’re both by London-based artists Hsiao-Chi Tsai and Kimiya Yoshikawa. Hsiao-Chi is Taiwanese and Kimiya is Japanese but they met at the Chelsea College of Art and Design and both went on to the RCA, where Hsiao-Chi got an MA in Mixed-media textiles, and Kimiya an MA in Sculpture. They’ve been working together ever since.

Hsiao-Chi Tsai and Kimiya Yoshikawa

Photo by Michael Bowles

I didn’t know about the lion when Yannick and I went down to Ealing to see their exhibition of illuminated sculptures inspired by feathers, sea anemone, flowers and tendrils and microscopic details of plants. They glow from within and light up and fade as you wander around – very atmospheric and rather fun.

The Light and Dark Fantastic

Photo by Michael Bowles

Yannick and I were particularly taken with this massive vase of illuminated flowers which stands around seven feet tall and is made of Neoprene, Perspex, Metal and magnifying glass:

Light and Dark Fantastic

And I liked these sea-anemone-meets-chrysanthemum constructions too:

Light and Dark Fantastic

Light and Dark Fantastic

But then when I did a bit of research and found out about the Lion I was baffled. It was supposed to be on the corner of Shaftesbury Avenue and Wardour St, but that’s a busy junction with Les Miserable’s massive sign above the Queen’s Theatre on one corner; there was no room for a sculpture. I had to go and take a look before I realised – it’s on the other side of the road and it’s up above your head.I must have passed it dozens of times without realising.

Wardour St Lion

Next time you’re down that way, look up and you’ll see this ‘striking contemporary interpretation of a traditional Chinese symbol of greeting and guardianship’ on the wall above the Little Wu restaurant.

Wardour St Lion

It won the International Wardour Street Sculpture Commission, organised by Chinatown Arts Space (CAS), with sponsorship from corporate landlords Shaftesbury PLC and was unveiled in 2009. It will remain in place for ten years. What’s it made of? Thousands of individually laser-cut pieces of Perspex; each piece apparently represents the varied and diverse range of East Asians living in the UK today.

When you’ve seen that, get on the tube and go to Ealing for Light and Dark Fantastic, which is their first solo exhibition.

If you’d like to meet the artists, they’ll be doing an informal gallery tour on Saturday 8 December at 2 o’clock. It’s free and no need to book – just turn up.

The exhibition continues until 5 January 2013. Opening times are Tuesday to Friday 1-5pm, Saturday 11am-5pm. At Christmas it’s closed 23-27 December, open Friday 27 and Saturday 28, then closed until 1st January. It’s open as normal from Wednesday 2nd January.

The PM Gallery is a short walk from Ealing Broadway tube and rail station. It’s housed in the Grade I listed Pitzhanger House, designed by Sir John Soane in 1800.

Pitzhanger House, Ealing

5 thoughts on “Light and Dark Fantastic – and a lion above your head

  1. Pingback: Happy New Year! – and some January reminders | Sequins and Cherry Blossom

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