These works form part of a body of work created and exhibited in Japan in December 2018, as part of an Asialink Creative Exchange. The work features hand cut paper installations inspired by the patterns found in Rei's Samurai ancestor's armour-wear, which took on additional meaning when she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2017, becoming a warrior herself. The works illuminate the patterns of Rei's mixed Japanese-Australian heritage, and pay homage to her battle with breast cancer.

Elysha Rei, Wagara I (detail), 2019 Handcut paper. 45 x 104cm

Elysha Rei is a Japanese-Australian visual artist whose work draws upon her mixed heritage and lived experiences between places, cultures and communities. Her works are created from personal and historical archives which embed narrative and symbolism within a Japanese design aesthetic. Works include portraits, patterns and paper cutting which have been translated into large-scale murals and public art commissions. Since completing a Bachelor of Visual Arts in 2008, Rei has created and exhibited work, curated exhibitions and managed cultural spaces across Australia, New Zealand, Thailand, Japan and the US. In November 2018 she completed an Asialink Arts Creative Exchange in Japan creating work at Studio Kura in Fukuoka, then exhibited at No.12 Gallery in Tokyo.


Interview with Elysha Rei

How long have you been making?

I've been a practicing artist for 15 years now, making non-stop for most of that time.

Are you able to speak more to the influence of your Japanese ancestry on your practice?
My work is embedded in my Japanese ancestry, relating to a scope of generational history. Firstly my grandmother, being Japanese, and her story immigrating to Australia in 1953 as a Japanese War bride and having my mum, the first baby born to a Japanese war bride in Queensland.

Can you take us through a day of your creative process?

My creative process involves quite a lot of research and development before I know what I'm making. I enjoy researching about historical narratives and archives - whether it be personal or community related - and weaving that into visual metaphors. Once an idea is solid, its down to designing the work, and then comes the paper cutting part!

Is there a particular activity or place you go to when you need creative rejuvenation?

I absolutely love to do residencies in a place completely different o my home in Fortitude Valley in Queensland. My residency in Japan last year through Asialink Arts Creative Exchange was life changing, and even my recent residency in August this year in Barcaldine, remote Queensland. I enjoy the opportunity to have a change of pace, soak up a new environment and connect to the community and history. I find this incredibly rejuvenating both personally and professionally. I don't think I will ever stop travelling or learning!

What’s next for your practice?

I've just started a new project with Brisbane City Council to develop and deliver a series of public art works for a village shopping precinct. This will involve a community consultation process as well as the design and fabrication. I'm looking forward to getting started on this and delivering by mid 2020.