I was pleased to be invited to write the catalogue introduction for glass artist Kayo Yokoyama’s exhibition at Lost Bear Gallery, Katoomba. This also appeared in ‘Discover the Blue Mountains’ magazine, September 2014.
“I long, as does every human being, to be at home wherever I find myself.” – Maya Angelou
Kayo Yokoyama is a glass artist who was born in Japan and came to Australia, eventually studying Fine Arts at Sydney University. Now based in the Blue Mountains, her previous series, ‘Homeland’, was a physical manifestation of her search for a sense of home across the different countries and cultures she has lived in. It concerned belonging in a physical sense, connected to a lived place, and was characterised by clear glass vessels cold-etched with trees, often with a small chair placed inside. Kayo had found her home, looking out at trees, connected to nature, and invited us in. Her new series, ‘Sanctuary’, is an evolution of this idea, in which the search for a home has been extended to a home not physical, but internal, unaffected by location.
Her distinctive etched trees are still the main decorative element, linking the two series both visually and conceptually. However the chairs of ‘Homeland’ are no longer there, as these are not a home to sit in, they are the home within us, our inner room. All of the ‘Sanctuary’works feature streaks of colour that swirl around the form, on the horizon line of which Kayo has etched her forests of trees, so that the somewhat serendipitous colourings become evocative of a landscape. Some of the vessels also feature an etched line of buildings around the rim, with familiar elements of churches, fortresses and castles, yet even these remain unreal- archetypes of buildings and cities. They surround the vessels, protecting them, like our own self-erected inner sanctuaries.
‘Sanctuary’ also features a new form: large glass droplets hanging weightily from golden taps. “Water is the key to everything, everything starts with water”, Kayo enthuses. Water itself has no shape, and yet Kayo chose this form as one that instantly recalls water, archetypal more than real, just like her buildings. These forms are also etched with protective trees, to become small sanctuaries unto themselves, almost vibrating tangibly with the energy of the safe, changeless space contained within, the beginning of everything.
The works of first ‘Homeland’ and now ‘Sanctuary’ are so successful in their recollection of home, both physical and internal, partly because they utilise a material that we all use every day and overlook, and that more importantly, we use mainly in our homes. It is as much a part of our lives as the quest for a home and the creation of an inner refuge. We can’t think about something that has no name in the world of matter so Kayo has taken an abstract concept- sanctuary- and given it a physical corporeality that allows us to understand and explore it. Kayo makes us see glass, gifting it to us in a way that allows us to see its beauty and her message. Sanctuary is an exciting development from an artist with an already recognisable aesthetic, yet who is pushing the boundaries of her expression and medium.