The exhibition – part of Adams’s research conducted for her Masters in Fine Arts – is titled Beyond Sumi-e: a Practice-Led Investigation into the Influences of an Ancient Art Form on Contemporary Artists, with reference to the artworks of Hiroshi Senjju and Yoshio Ikezaki.
‘My art practice is rooted in the tradition of Sumi-e, Japanese ink painting,’ said Adams. ‘The all-natural materials date back more than 2000 years and these are called the Four Treasures: the inkstick (sumi), the inkstone (suzuri), brushes (choryu) and paper (washi). These form the basis of my painting.’
Adams’s focus is on nature, degeneration and regeneration with the themes expressed in organic forms created intuitively in layers, collages and transparencies, drawing on a lifelong store of inexplicable feelings and resonance with nature, translated as yūgen in Japanese. Analogies for intrusions on nature, where humans exploit and contaminate, are interspersed and conveyed through the use of thread and the colour red.
Throughout her research, her use of natural materials associated with the Sumi-e tradition has been in part influenced by her working life in fashion and textiles, where she has included the incorporation of cotton organdy, silk and cotton thread.
‘My personally recycled paper, as well as various washi made out of plant fibres such as mulberry (kozo) and ganpi (ganpishi), are used in both two and three-dimensional artworks. The latter are suspended forms, incorporating elements of my personal history, evident in the melange of fabrics, papers, Sumi-e, stitching, sand, organic matter, feathers, and portions of my wedding dress made out of a WW2 family silk parachute,’ she said.
The juxtaposition of these disparate elements in flux, together with shadows and darkness contrasting with lightness, suggest both decay and degeneration as well as regeneration expressing hope.’
These artworks were installed and filmed in a local forest setting which adds further dimensions to the artworks, allowing foliage, movement of air and the play of light, shadow, and ambient sounds of birds and water to enhance the material qualities of transparency and rupture.
‘My intention is not to prescribe to viewers how they should view these artworks, hence no titles, but rather that the artworks evoke sensations within the viewers and that they will respond to subjectively,’ said Adams.