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  • Writer's pictureAmy Couling

Musubi Exhibition: The Opening Night

It was finally here, the day I had been working towards. Three months of preparation leading up to this one night. I was a bag of nerves because I didn’t know how many people to expect - was it going to be five people or fifty? (It turned out to be more on the fifty side).

The day itself had a full on schedule as the gallery was open during the day from 10am and I was sitting in until lunch time. My dad and my aunt (who drove down from Nelson just to attend the opening) took over for me in the afternoon as my mum and I got ready to dress in kimono. My brother was our designated chauffeur and sushi man as he went to pick up the catering from St. Pierre’s Sushi.

At home I was frantically trying to do my hair up in an ‘elegant’ kimono friendly updo, which took a few tries while watching kimono hairstyle YouTube tutorials. One thing I am not is a good hairdresser - a fact that I rediscovered as I tried to do my own hair. My mum was putting on her own kimono while I did my hair and make up and then it was my turn to get dressed.

Putting on kimono is an art within itself. There’s a specific way and order of dressing and tying each kimono layer and then there’s the tying of the obi (heavy brocade sash tied around the waist). The obi comes in different lengths and fabric weaves which can be tied in hundreds of different ways, with specific types of obi and obi knots reserved for different occasions.

My mum and I decided a few weeks beforehand which kimono and obi combination we would both be wearing from her kimono collection. She had also practised dressing me a few times. We chose a dark pink/red kimono in the komon (小紋) style for me and paired it with a white silk Nagoya obi tied up in the nijūdaiko (二重太鼓) style, which can be worn at most formal occasions.

Once we were both ready, my brother drove us to The Christchurch Arts Centre | Te Matatiki Toi Ora where my exhibition was being held upstairs in the Pūmanawa Gallery. We got there around five o’clock, with the opening due to start from five thirty. My dad, my aunt and my partner were waiting for us there, ready to help set out the food and drinks.

It was five thirty before I knew it and people started arriving. We were still in Level 2 due to Coronavirus, so every person had to sign in digitally or manually on paper, with hand sanitiser at the door.

The rest of the night was a blur of greeting familiar faces; it was a strange yet wonderful sensation to have a room full of people that I knew. Friends, family, schoolmates, teachers, fellow artists - so many people came out on the night and I was blown away by their support.

A number of women that I knew answered the call to dress in kimono, and it was amazing to see so many gorgeous kimono clad women in one room! This was definitely a rare sight for any event in Christchurch and it matched the kimono theme of my exhibition perfectly.

Time passed quickly, the crown thinned out and it was suddenly eight o’clock. I was boiling hot from the heat of the room, thirsty from talking non-stop and also starving - I didn’t even get a chance to have any of the sushi I provided because it was gone in a flash!

I was still reeling from the night as we packed up and left for a very late and well deserved family dinner out. I was relieved the main event I had been planning for was over and I thought the stress of the past few months would leave me on that night, but I was still too wound up to sleep properly.

Organising a self-run solo exhibition was the biggest event I have ever planned and also the most satisfying thing I have ever done as I watched it become a success all on its own.

Thank you to everyone who came out on the opening night, I really appreciated seeing you there even if I didn’t get to talk to you much! Thank you to my family for helping me install the whole show and helping me in the gallery for the rest of the week - I couldn’t have done it without you.

There was a shaky moment in the week leading up to my exhibition where we had a second outbreak of Coronavirus in Auckland which meant they were suddenly put in lockdown Level 3 by the government. The rest of the country was put in Level 2 and I was stressing out that we would also be bumped up to Level 3 over the weekend, which would mean my whole exhibition would be cancelled - but thank goodness it didn’t come to that!

It was a dream of mine to have my first solo exhibition in Christchurch, my hometown, and I was delighted it could become a reality. Musubi was all about the connections and bonds between people and I loved the idea that all of the people I knew in Christchurch could be connected through my exhibition.

Thank you to everyone near and far for supporting me during my exhibition and thank you to Future Language Solutions for sponsoring my event!

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