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Art that flies beyond borders

Japanese-Australian artist, Hiromi Tango, says the series that make up her exhibition New Now represent an artistic response to overwhelming situations, and a quest for healing.

“How do we define now? How can we build resilience? How do we adapt to new realities? How can we build hope in this challenging time?”

The sculpture, paintings and drawings in New Now were developed in 2019 and 2020 – a period in which Tango’s hometown of Tweed Heads was engulfed in bushfire, and she was isolated from her ageing parents in Japan due to Covid-19.

Beginning with ‘Kimono’s Will’, a series of colourful textile sculptures made from Kimono fabric, Tango unwraps and resolves “the relationship between generations of women” and associated cultural expectations.

Through these works, she says, pain related to her complex relationship with her mother “released like the kite without thread, and I felt a heavy weight taken from me”.

Having just negotiated this peace between her two worlds of Japan and Australia, the chaos of the bushfires began in late 2019.

“I remember feeling so helpless, watching the news while working overseas, and wanting to somehow heal the landscape.”

From this came her series of drawings, the ‘Healing Circles’. Beginning with the grey palette of the earth’s pain and suffering, and working through the meditative process of drawing and redrawing, these finally evolved to encompass a bright palette of positivity and joy.

Next, Tango says, just as she and other Australians began to think they might recover from the bushfires, Covid-19 changed everyone’s world radically and borders closed.

“‘Beyond Borders’ captures that moment of deep anxiety, fearing for the safety of loved ones in Australia and in Japan, not knowing when or if we can meet again.

“I began to focus on the things we could still share even across the ocean, and imagined a bird that could fly beyond borders, and the perspective of all the ways that nature can still connect us through this time.

“The lockdown period has been so difficult for so many of us: isolation, lost income, uncertainty about the future. For my practice, it has also meant a time of reimagining how to create collective experiences that are joyful and uplifting, and that can help us all to feel connected at a time when we must be ‘together apart’.”

The final works – ‘New’, ‘Now’ and ‘Heal’ focus on the things we can influence, Tango says, to find the beauty in the moment.

“‘Now’ is where we discover our own ability to be resilient in the face of all the things we can’t control.”


New Now runs from September 3 – October 3, 2020, at Sullivan+Strumpf, 799 Elizabeth Street, Zetland.

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