• Amy Couling

Musubi Exhibition: During the Week


Musubi exhibition poster that I designed

Musubi means a knot in Japanese. It also means the connections and bonds between people.

In Shintoism, Japan’s ancient religion, musubi is the power of becoming or creation.

Physically, musubi means to tie something, such as tying the obi sash on a kimono.

O-musubi is a handmade rice ball that my obāchan (grandma) used to make for me when we visited Japan.

Musubi is the invisible thread that ties family, friends and true love together; the threads of fate that also tie me to you.


My brother showing the way into The Christchurch Arts Centre | Te Matatiki Toi Ora

That was the opening statement of my debut solo show Musubi, which was shown at the Pūmanawa Gallery in The Christchurch Arts Centre | Te Matatiki Toi Ora.


SAN SEDAI (Three Generations) Series, 2019, silk screenprint on cotton broadcloth

All of my major works to date were on display and it was an amazing feeling to see all of them on show in one room. The Pūmanawa Gallery was a beautiful space to have my exhibition and I loved the juxtaposition of having my Japanese art shown in a historically British building - East meets West indeed.


Panorama shots of my works

The Christchurch Arts Centre | Te Matatiki Toi Ora is a collection of 23 heritage buildings built in the Gothic Revival style in the 1800s. It was formerly known as Canterbury College (University of Canterbury) but it’s now a cultural centre for the arts with local artisan markets, retailers, cafés, bars and its very own boutique cinema.

Naoka, Hikari, Arisa, 2020, gouache on paper

I have very fond memories of The Arts Centre from childhood - from doing Kidsfest activities at The Fudge Cottage to attending art classes in the observatory tower taught by Tracy.


Karin, Naroko, Yukari, 2020, gouache on paper

The Arts Centre was badly damaged in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake and the majority of the buildings are still being restored. Because of the fact that they are heritage buildings, the list of things that I could not do in the gallery space was extensive.


Portraits of my mum and I wearing my work, shot by Timothy Lomax and Bridie McKenna

I could only hang works from the picture rail around the room (two metres high) and I wasn’t allowed to mount works onto the walls in any other way. I used fishing wire to hang my framed works from the picture rail but it was a mission in itself to get them all hanging straight and in place. We did end up sneakily using Blu-tack to keep the bottom corners of the frames from moving.


Sedai (Hollyhocks), 2019, porcelain, terra sigillata, sgraffito, glaze

糸を繋げることもむすび。


人を繋げることもむすび。


時間が流れることもむすび。


寄り集まって形を作り、捻れて絡まって、時には戻って、途切れ、また繋がり、、、

それが「結び」、それが時間。



ー「君の名は。」


Sedai (Serving Sake), 2019, porcelain, terra sigillata, sgraffito, glaze

Tying thread is musubi.


Connecting people is musubi.


The passage of time is musubi.


They come together to take shape, twisting and tangling, sometimes coming undone, breaking off then reconnecting...


That is musubi, that is time.


- Your Name, 2016


My artist talk on the Saturday morning

I applied for a grant to fund my show and I got accepted, which was a relief! The organisation was called Future Language Solutions in conjunction with The University of Auckland. I was awarded their NZJEP 2020 grant for artists who could strengthen the ties between New Zealand and Japan through their projects.

Explaining the themes and process behind my porcelain pieces

Unfortunately as a visual artist in today's society, you have to be an all-rounder with a lot of skills in a lot of different areas. To apply for the grant, I had to write a proposal of what I wanted to achieve with the exhibition and how it would help the general public in understanding more of Japanese culture.


I also had to write up a budget for the exhibition and a report after the event, as well as an article for their online newsletter which you can read here.

Artbeat August Issue 2020

I had initially planned for my exhibition to be two weeks long, but due to restraints with the venue availability it ended up being just one week. I was worried a lot of people would miss the opportunity to come with their busy schedules and busy lives, but on the contrary, a lot more people came to see it possibly because the window of opportunity was so small.

Painting with Gouache Workshop on Sunday afternoon

The exhibition week turned out to be a huge success and a lot of my works sold. It was the first time for my work to be seen by the public as a whole, so it definitely boosted my confidence and it made me sure that I was on the right track.

Painting with Gouache Workshop on Sunday afternoon

I had to don a lot of different hats leading up to my exhibition; roles that included artist, curator, poster designer, marketing director, website designer and install team member.


It was definitely hard work putting together the whole show and covering all of the facets on my own but that just made the satisfaction of pulling off a completely self-run exhibition even greater!


Dealer galleries take half of the artists' earnings on average so it was such a good feeling to keep all of the profit I made for myself and put that money back into my art-making.

My installation team (lol)

My partner and my family were kind enough to help me install and de-install the whole show, which I was VERY grateful for! It was not an easy task to hang all of the works straight and keep them from falling down (which happened more than a few times).


Watching the gallery (my favourite job)

I absolutely loved watching over the gallery during the week and chatting with the visitors that came in. It reaffirmed my dream of owning my own gallery and studio space one day.


Thank you so much to everyone who came to my show and supported me during this time!

It was the best thing that I have ever done and I can’t wait to do it again.

See you all at the next show!

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