Elysha Rei ( nee Gould)
About Elysha Rei:
Since finishing with Made. Creative Space, Elysha relocated to Thailand for 18 months to undertake a Master’s in Business Administration whilst setting up the international residency program Sam Rit Residency. She has since held coordination roles at Flying Arts Alliance and is now the Public Programs Officer at Queensland State Archives. She continues to practice as an artist creating works 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 for Councils and private clients. Notable achievements include being invited as the inaugural artist-in-residence at Museum of Brisbane in 2017, large-scale murals for First Coat and Grand Central in Toowoomba, a 2018 recipient of an Asialink Arts Creative Exchange residency in Japan and international solo exhibitions in Bangkok and Tokyo.
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made.Creative Toowoomba (2011-2013) made. Creative reunion Show (2021) in collaboration with artist Alex Stalling ( Attic Art Space Toowoomba c. 2008 -2010)
Various Private Collections
b.1986 Saudi Arabia | Lives and works in Meanjin (Brisbane), Australia
Elysha Rei (pronounced eh-lee-sha ray) is a Japanese-Australian visual artist whose work draws upon her mixed heritage and lived experiences between cultures and communities. Works in paper cutting, public art and murals are created from personal and historical archives which embed narrative and symbolism within a Japanese design aesthetic. As a grandchild of a Japanese War Bride, Rei’s affinity to Japanese culture stems from the need to preserve her maternal heritage and connect with her Samurai and Tea Master ancestry. Drawn to Japanese design principles and elements in nature, Rei’s works feature strong patterns and motifs that stem from research into records, scientific research and commemorating points in history. With a desire to continually challenge her practice, artist residencies and personal travel inform an important element to her continued creative development. Since completing a Bachelor of Visual Arts in 2008, Rei has created and exhibited work, curated exhibitions and managed cultural spaces across Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Netherlands, Thailand and the US.
Notable commissions include:
Wilston Village Project, a series of balustrades, projections and sandblasted pavement designs along Kedron Brook Road, Brisbane, commission by Brisbane City Council
Westin Hotel, artwork in Eden’s Table Restaurant Level 1, Curated by iAM Projects, 111 Mary Street, Brisbane.
Cathedral Square Water Feature on Ann Street commission by Brisbane City Council (2017)
Rei’s first external wall painting by QIC, featured as part of Grand Central Shopping Centre’s Culture Wall in Toowoomba in Dent Street (2017)
First Coat international art festival mural on the Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery (2017)
Brisbane City Council’s Vibrant Laneways installation in the King George Square (2016)
Engage Arts site-specific paper and vinyl installation ‘Weaving Our Heritage’ in Eagle Lane 2016 as part of Brisbane City Council’s BrisAsia Festival
My work allows me to stay connected to the culture of my Japanese heritage. I grew up surrounded by beautiful Japanese ornaments which adorned our family homes. From koinobori fish kites, to kimono and kokeshi dolls, I adored and admired these pieces which played a role in creating a sense of home whilst my family consistently moved throughout the Asia Pacific. When I continued travelling in my adult life, each new abode would always feel complete once these precious trinkets and an artist studio was set-up. This cultural surrounding in my childhood homes along with my time growing up in Asia was the start of my creative influence.
After adjusting to living in different communities and cultures over the years, my sense of identity as a Japanese Australian has become an anchor point whilst I navigated so much change. It was on a pilgrimage to Japan in 2018, that this connection to my heritage was cemented. Travelling from Kyushu to Tokyo, I followed in the footsteps of my ancestors – a samurai and a tea master – and my maternal Japanese grandmother and Australian grandfather’s love story post WWII. I found my purpose as an artist is to preserve this part of my family’s heritage through the use of Japanese design aesthetics in my work, which provides a constant source of inspiration. As the grandchild of a Japanese war-bride in Australia, the cross-roads between East and West are integral to my work, manifesting visually and metaphorically.
I am committed to growing and challenging myself as an artist, exploring new ways of working and producing that always connects back to honoring my family’s culture and heritage. I enjoy paper-cutting as a medium that requires design-thinking and craftsmanship in order to achieve a work that is both visually captivating and structurally refined. This design approach has allowed me to expand beyond papercutting to large scale installations, large-scale murals, sculptural pieces, wearable art, sandblasted pavements designs, and projection work.
My work always has an interwoven narrative. This may be stories from my own experiences as a mother, breast cancer survivor or my family’s history. With client commissions I enjoy telling the stories of other communities and their histories. Creating commissions allows me to research archives and scientific studies, and form relationships with communities which conjure visual representations that create site-specific works.