Tuesday, May 5, 2015


Here’s hoping you're managing to keep warm on these wintery, wet days here in ole Melbourne town.
As mentioned in my last post, ‘Karisome – Transience’ is running at Yering Station until May 17th so there's still heaps of time to pop out for a look,and possibly a taste of the beautiful wine on offer, if you're in the vicinity.  I have just finished a short video interview about the background to the exhibition title and paintings so you can get a sense of what is on show. (click on the video below to view)

Karisome Video Interview on YouTube

May I extend an enormous thank you to everyone who made out to Yering Station for the exhibition opening and a huge thank you also to both Jeanette Davison and Ewan Jarvis for their heartfelt, eloquent and insightful speeches.
Here is an excerpt from Ewan Jarvis's wonderful speech...... with some images of paintings in the show nestled between his words. An enormous thank you again Ewan xxxx

Beneath the Blossom 84cm x 152cm, 2015

"Good evening and welcome to the Yering Station Gallery. My name is Ewen Jarvis. I run the cellar door here at Yering Station and will be standing in for our curator Savaad Felich while he is on leave. So on his behalf and on behalf of the Yering Station Gallery, I’m delighted to be welcoming you to the opening of Nerina Lascelles’ exhibition ‘Karisome’ or ‘Transience’: a collection of works that take as their subject the transient nature of all things and the beauty inherent in transience itself.

The Japanese word Karisome denotes the inevitable dissolution of all form through the passage of time.  Karisome can be translated into English as transient or temporary. Translation is however something of a haphazard affair, and these English words don’t quite convey the nuanced meaning of the Japanese word.

Maigure-shon - Migration 84cm x 152cm, 2015

Nerina has observed on one of her blogs that an awareness of karisome involves joy, an intense appreciation of things, and also a gentle sadness at their passing.
Now yesterday, with all of this in mind, I decided to ask a few Japanese visitors to the gallery for their personal definition of Karisome. My favourite response was from a lady called Michiko from Kobe, who was on holiday with her mother and grandmother. Michiko said that Karisome is ‘like a love affair that is all the more moving and beautiful for being short’.
The chrysanthemum flowers, cherry blossoms, honey bees and migrating cranes of this exhibition ask us to reflect on love affairs that are all the more beautiful for being short, and in doing so they induce a Zen-like calm.

Karisome III 2 84cm x 152cm, 2015

Nerina’s works, I think you will agree, have an immediately calming effect. They encourage tranquillity and induce in us a sensitivity to the subtle movements of human life and the workings of nature: and experience that deepens with patient observation. Giving these works our attention involves becoming lost in their many layers of texture, colour and symbol.

Shihyou – Pattern, 122cm x 122cm, 2015

In Nerina’s works the layering of Japanese Kimono embroidery, Chinese silk, Washi paper, Joss and encaustic wax invites the viewer to step through the textured surface into imagined worlds, while the disparate vintages of the carefully chosen material invite us to become lost in the passing of time. Viewing these works, we are often jointly aware of the eternal and the transient. For example, in Japanese mythology the crane lives for 1,000 years, but for a human observer the spectacle of its migration is all the more beautiful for being fleeting.

Another element of Nerina’s exhibition that endears me to her work are the titles taken from the Japanese poetry. I always enjoy an exhibition a little more if the titles of the works are working as hard as the works themselves. Nerina certainly doesn’t disappoint. Take for instance the title of the following piece:

The sun covered
By clouds for a while
Migrating birds

Basho 1644-1694

For me, haiku like this has the effect of someone walking into a room and playing a few exquisite notes on a flute and then leaving.
These words, written in seventeenth century feudal Japan by Matsuo Basho (and for those of you unfamiliar with Matsuo Basho, he is the Japanese equivalent of Shakespeare) these words introduce us to a work in which migrating-silk-kimono cranes are seen traversing an airy skyscape of precipitous paper mountains, gold gilt clouds, crooked trees clinging to crevasses, while delicately penned Japanese words fall like rain into low valleys.
The overall effect is of entering a tranquil, complex and dreamlike space....."

Photos thanks to Kerry Cross

"Karisome - Transience" Runs April 2 - 17 May 2015

Opening Drinks Friday April 10th 6pm - 7.45

Admission Free

Contact details:

Exhibition Coordinator - Savaad Felich
T 03 9730 0102

38 Melba Hwy Yarra Glen 3775 
Victoria, Australia 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Karisome - Transience

The title of my next exhibition is ‘Karisome’ (Ka-ri-so-me) which is Japanese for ‘Transience’. It embodies the ancient Zen Buddhist concept that all form – be that material, thought or emotion - will inevitably dissolve through the passage of time. The contemplation of the transient nature of all things is nothing new, philosophers have ruminated with this concept since the dawn of time. The ancient Japanese monks, seers, artists and poets not only acknowledged and embraced this idea but also perceived the transient and ever-changing element of life to hold incredible beauty. A beauty which does not last and cannot be grasped, bought or owned.

Live in simple faith
Just as this trusting cherry
Flowers, fades and falls – Basho 

The words of this beautiful Basho poem eloquently capture the wisdom and grace of being aware of and applying the concept of transience. Western culture appears to identify so heavily with the permanence of material form, thought and emotion, and could perhaps live in a more balanced way through acceptance of the popular Buddhist concept that “This too shall pass.” Rather than becoming lost in the world of things, emotions and events we should flow with grace and trust life and its experiences.

Mono No Aware (pronounced - “moh-noh noh ah-wah-ray”) is a Japanese term which arose from the Buddhist culture of the Heian Period (794-1185). This term describes the awareness of the transience of things, and both a joy and intense appreciation as well as a gentle sadness at their passing. Poet and artist Motoori Norinaga (1730 -1801), describes the term as “sensitive, exquisite feelings experienced when encountering the subtle workings of human life or the changing seasons.” In Norinaga’s interpretation, the phrase speaks of a refined sensitivity toward the sorrowful and transient nature of beauty. According to mono no aware, a falling or wilting autumn flower is more beautiful than one in full bloom; a fading sound more beautiful than one clearly heard. The Sakura or cherry blossom tree is the epitome of this conception of beauty. They explode in beauty after winter’s doldrums, trumpeting life for only a few days before they die. 

Beauty is a subjective rather than objective experience, a state of being ultimately internal rather than external. Based largely upon classical Greek ideals, beauty in the West is sought in the ultimate perfection of an external object: a sublime painting, perfect sculpture or intricate musical composition; a beauty that could be said to be only skin deep. The Japanese ideal sees beauty instead as an experience of the heart and soul, a feeling for and appreciation of objects or artwork—most commonly nature or the depiction of—in a pristine, untouched state.

The paintings in this exhibition combine the influences of the ancient artwork from Japan, an understanding of Zen Buddhist philosophy and a contemplation of the transient nature of life.

This body of work contains floral imagery such as the cherry blossom as well as bees and birds which again symbolise the transient life of the natural world. Materials used in these paintings incorporate a collection of vintage Japanese fabrics, wallpapers and metallic leaf and foil; combined onto the canvas with screen printed patterns, paint and encaustic wax. As when Japanese golden screens first appeared in the fourteenth century they functioned as a background on which to paste painted fans or square poem cards. Similarly, these paintings are a combination of both paper and material collage and painted areas.

Pattern is also an important element in this collection of paintings. I am contemplating both the pattern of the life cycle and seasons, pattern within sound, music and the written language, patterns in nature (honeycomb, petals of a blossom, waves etc) and the deeper, more geometric patterns that man has recognized in nature including the Fibonacci sequence, Mandelbrot set and Golden Mean.

Segments of the paintings appear as though they have aged over time. Tarnish, wear and decay also represent the transient nature of passing time. Areas of space represent that which has passed before or that which is yet to come into form. They suggest a magical, ‘alive’ dimension of true beauty beyond the 3D form that we, as humans so heavily identify with.

The paintings are material objects that depict an image which arose from the essence and which, at their highest function, will offer the viewer a window to their own eternal essence within.