There’s a new gallery in town, the White Rainbow Gallery on Mortimer Street, round the back of Oxford St and guess what? It specialises in contemporary art from Japan. As you can imagine, Yannick and I were onto it like a cat on a lazy sparrow. Saturday afternoon saw us pushing open the tall glass doors to check out the cool white space inside, suitably inaugurated with a selection of ethereal works by Aiko Miyanaga.
Miyanaga’s works look like they’re made of glass, but they’re actually naphthaline casts of everyday objects placed inside acrylic or resin cases. Naphthaline is the stuff they use in mothballs, but the point about it is that it sublimates at room temperature. This means that it transforms directly from solid to gas without passing through a liquid phase. (That’s why mothballs don’t last).
In Miyanaga’s work this process is driven by the changing conditions of temperature and humidity, and even the breath of gallery visitors, so that the naphthaline releases itself from the shape of the cast object and gradually condenses into crystals inside the case. Even after losing its solid form it continues to evolve, retaining its constituent parts and mass.
The series of cast naphthalene keys encapsulated in resin books with contrasting purple bookmarks made of fabric have a limited airflow, holding them in a stable state. They come from a site-specific installation Miyanaga created for the Liverpool Central Library’s Picton Reading Room. The books lie dormant, waiting for their moment to be awakened into reading.
Bubbles are purposefully let into the resin, capturing the atmosphere of the space in which the object was cast: each sculptural piece incorporates layers of time.
Miyanaga says that her work is about change and attempts to capture the passage of time. That’s why she creates around traces of everyday commodities which once belonged to somebody.
As Yannick pointed out, they have a fairy-tale quality; keys, books, lost slippers, ticking clocks.
I’m not sure how much change will be visible over the period of the exhibition, which ends on 22nd November, but it will be interesting to go back and take a look. The gallery itself is an attractive space – a large, high-ceilinged white-painted room with a cool yet inviting atmosphere. I certainly expect to be dropping in there a lot for future exhibitions.
The White Rainbow Gallery is at 47 Mortimer Street. It’s open Tuesday to Friday 11 am to 6 pm, Saturday 12 pm to 5 pm.