Happo-en is a series of pieces that are designed to be placed either on a wall side by side or lying down. They were painted as one composite image, with the section numbered 32 at the bottom, 33 above and 34 at the top, forming a narrative.
They describe a particular experience from my trip that struck me as profound. Happo-en is one of the most ravishing gardens in Tokyo. I was there on a crisp, blue-skied February morning. It was my last morning in Japan. I was standing on a boulder at the edge of a lake, listening to the stillness. A splashing and disturbance startled me, and I saw a white koi carp, head clear out of the water, gliding slowly and creating a wake whose ripples spread across the entire surface. A few minutes later another koi, this time bright orange, swam into the shallows and lingered near me, taking its time.
The Oceania Series of Vermeer reliefs
Rebecca Newnham 2020
The Vermeer series is a series of curved relief panels. Their reflective glass surfaces refract the room or the environment so that the viewer’s perception switches between the image and the reflection. Each piece starts by painting onto glass with enamels, which is then fired to fix the pigments into the glass. The glass is then cut and collaged to create a faceted, pixilated image. The shape of each Vermeer is a shallow, tensioned curve, like the lens of the eye.
The Oceania series is a group of works that reflect a trip to Tokyo and to Auckland early in 2020. Most have a relationship to water – either a beach, a lake, or the ocean – and to the natural and spiritual world. As Covid-19 was taking hold and the virus spread, they served to emphasise the value of the fiercely protected, unspoilt natural beauty of New Zealand and the restraint, focus and social consciousness of Japanese society at a time when the whole world is looking closely at itself and revaluating.
Medium: Enamelled glass, timber
Dimensions each: 920 x 920x 100mm