• Amy Couling

Miyako Exhibition: The Opening Night


The opening of my long awaited second solo exhibition Miyako was held on the night of Tuesday 17th May.


I had initially planned to do this exhibition last year, but my venue fell through due to certain circumstances (an utterly unhelpful property manager). I was severely disappointed at the time, but the timing actually turned out to be better when it happened this year...and everything happens for a reason, right?

My venue this time was an empty space in Cathedral Junction. Ōtautahi Christchurch is ideal for creatives in the way that, for better or worse, we still have a lot of empty retail spaces around the city since the earthquakes (and Covid). These can and have been used for creative purposes if you have the ideas and determination to make it happen.


I had been keeping my eye on this particular space for over a year because I thought that the size and location of it would be perfect for the smaller scale exhibition that I was envisioning. Plus, I liked the tiled flooring (a lot of other spaces had carpet or concrete).

The new property manager for this space was so lovely and helpful and I got to use it for three weeks, which was exactly the time period that I wanted. I was prepared to pay for the venue myself, but luckily the funding that I applied for got accepted, thanks to the Christchurch City Creative Communities Scheme.

I left myself two days for the exhibition install before my opening night and I was so glad that I did! When we first walked into the place and turned the lights on, I immediately thought that this was all a huge mistake and that it could never work out…

The walls were dirty and patchy with holes and nails everywhere. We ended up repainting the whole room and filling in the big holes with gap filler. My parents were my saving grace; they helped me with everything, no questions asked.


That was a moment when I fully appreciated that my Dad was a classic DIY kiwi because he had all the brushes, tools and paint that we needed - even equipped with drop sheets and a painting suit!

The only downside to painting the whole space was that (obviously) we had to wait for it to dry before we could actually hang any of my works.


The first day was consumed by painting, and the second was all about the hanging. The thing about installing your own show is that the jobs you think won't take long actually take the longest...and hanging the paintings was a nightmare.

Measuring the walls, measuring the paintings and calculating where it would hang from was the most tedious job that took far too much time. The perfectionist in me wanted everything to be evenly spaced and hanging exactly straight and in the end...we finally got there!

The most nerve wracking thing about doing your own show is that you never know how it will actually look before everything is installed. You're advertising your event this whole time and telling people to come to it, but it doesn't even exist in the space yet. You don't even know if it's going to look any good in real life!


Thanks to our cleaning up of the walls and meticulous measuring however, the show looked amazing! I was so pleased and SO relieved to finally have all of the works up.

On the day of the opening I was frantically patching up the walls with the last bit of paint and putting up the didactics next to the paintings.


I went over to my parents' house to get dressed into kimono with Mum. She picked out this gorgeous kiku (chrysanthemum) komon kimono for me to wear and tied the fukuro obi (most formal obi type) into a nijudaiko knot.


Mum wore a lovely grey-green kimono with a nagoya obi that she previously wore to the Changing Threads exhibition opening night.

The turn out to my Miyako exhibition was great and it was SO nice to see so many familiar faces in one room. Friends, family, colleagues, other artists and my former tutors were there to support me and three of my paintings sold on the opening night! Thank you again to those amazing people for supporting my work.

The most satisfying thing about running and curating my own shows is that I get to take home all of the profit from selling my works, which I can pump back into my art practice. Artists represented by dealer galleries typically get fifty percent taken off their earnings as gallery commission, so it feels good to be paid in full with the prices that I decide.

My friends at Sakimoto Japanese Bistro prepared this amazing vege sushi platter for my opening night. Unfortunately I only got to eat one leftover piece at the end because they were gobbled up so fast! (At least I managed to have one piece this time around though, compared to my last show where I didn't get to have any!)


A lot of us walked across to Sakimoto (right opposite my exhibition) after the event to have a well deserved dinner together too!

It was such a fun night and I was so grateful to everyone who made the effort to come out on a cold, autumnal evening despite Covid and other ailments!

Thank you to everyone for their kindness and support on the night and an extra big thank you to my parents who helped me to install the whole show! And thank you to my love for taking all of these photos throughout the night for me!


To be honest I'm not sure whether I will do another self-run solo show again (it takes up SO much time and energy on my part) but I will keep pursuing different avenues to keep getting my art out there - and of course I will keep you updated!

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