The Moon Garden, Their Garden is Fumi Imamura’s first solo London exhibition, curated by Julia Tarasyuk. The show takes inspiration from the 8th century legend of Princess Chujo (Chujo Hime) and the Tale of the Bamboo Cutter, a tale from popular Japanese folklore inspired by her life. Having become a nun at the Taima-dera Temple after escaping from her stepmother, Princess Chujo created the beautiful and intricate Taima Mandala, an example of which is in the collection of the British Museum.
Imamura takes much of her inspiration from the form of Princess Chujo’s mandala and its connections with the natural world, both spiritual and earthly. Imamura has loved the stories of Princess Chujo since her childhood and particularly remembers the beautiful images of the Princess pulling threads through lotus stems, dyeing them with pigments from flowers and trees and weaving with them, a technique which clearly inspires her work today.
Imamura’s ethereal practice refers to this constant movement between our world and other worlds. Imamura thinks of each of her botanical works as individual gardens and each piece embodies an element of her personality. Meticulously crafted, tiny floral elements are arranged in surreal shapes that the artist borrows from nature to express her own body and mind, imagining a world with an organic sense of freedom. For Imamura, these gardens offer a safe space from which she is able to engage with others and the world around her.
Her larger works have human proportions, implying our subtle connection as humans with alternate worlds, both literal and folkloric. She has a very particular and unique practice using collage and watercolour on paper, her delicate creations resembling dried flowers pressed into the pages of a book, but on a wall-sized scale.
These plants derive their charm not only from their branching, budding, insect-nibbled blossoms and leaves, but also from their poignantly rendered roots. Her works speak to the beauty of the cracked, the faded, and the lovingly preserved.