Art Galleries Schubert  



 MARI HIRATA Domestic Bliss


Opens December 7th,2007


Ambiguous, intimate and compellingly beautiful, the Domestic Bliss images explore issues of personal and trans-cultural identity. Concerned with the nature of memory, place, gender and change, they are works of remarkable depth and humanity - yet their allure is unsettling.  Surreal juxtapositions and unusual perspectives combine with the slow rhythm of repeated shapes to lure the viewer into dimensions beyond the photographic medium. 


Superbly orchestrated, each tableau contains a solitary figure immersed in some routine domestic activity made bizarre by the inclusion of a collection of white, high-heeled shoes. Clad in an antique kimono, the young woman’s attire is anything but mundane: the exquisite fabric referencing not only Hirata’s heritage, but the subtlety of strictures placed on feminine expression throughout history. A profound, if poignant irony is registered in the intense red of the garment as it pulses out - defiant against a perceived blackness. 

Different systems of seeing merge within the cultural hybridity of Mari Hirata’s imagery. It is not unexpected given the young artist’s own diverse ancestry: her father is Japanese and her mother of Sri Lankan and Dutch origins. Mari was born in Yokohama and lived there until her family relocated to the Gold Coast in 1992. She was 10 years old. The sociological and emotional upheavals of adapting to a totally new way of living and being continue to surface in this current body of work. 


The Domestic Bliss exhibition revisits Hirata’s primary subject - the white, high-heeled shoes which first featured in a series begun in her final year of college. The idea had developed while working as an interpreter for a local bridal company that promoted Western-style ‘White Wedding’ packages to Japanese tourists. To maximise financial return, the ceremonies were conducted en masse with assembly-line precision and haste. Hirata inherited this company’s dozens of identical white shoes. Small, delicate and built up to impart an appropriate height, these shoes came to articulate notions of incongruity, dichotomy and alienation for the student photographer. Interestingly, such is the extraordinary refinement and visual elegance of Hirata’s pictorial vocabulary, that the tensions of duality seem absolved. The Domestic Bliss photographs allow us a glimpse into the illusive whole - ever present - within the fragmented nature of lived experience.




 Born 1981 in Japan, Mari Hirata now lives and works on the Gold Coast. She completed a Bachelor of Visual Arts from Queensland College of Art, Griffith University in 2001 and a Master of Arts: Photography Major, Queensland College of Art, Griffith University in 2003. Since then she has participated in many important exhibitions and is the recipient of numerous awards.

AWARDS: 2007 - MIRVAC Billboard Project, Yarra’s Edge Urban Art Programme, Tower 1 Docklands, Melbourne; 2006 – Josephine Ulrick Schubert Photography Art Award, People’s Choice Award; 2005 – Churchie Emerging Art Exhibition, Highly Commended in the category of New Technologies; 2005 – Kodak Autumn Salon: ‘Excellence in Photomedia’, Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne; 2004 – NAVA Visual Art and Craft Artists’ Grant; ‘Departure Lounge’; 2004 – ‘Space Invaders’: Toowoomba Emerging Artist Exhibition, two works acquired & selected for touring exhibition; ‘Crates on Wheels’; 2004 – Gold Coast Art & Design Award, winner of 2D category; 2004 – May; Churchie Emerging Art Exhibition, Highly Commended in the category of New Technologies; 2003 – Griffith University Postgraduate Student Association, Excellence in Postgraduate Coursework Award; 2003 – ‘The Pink Poodle Art Prize’, Commended; 2001 – ‘N.A.B. Contemporary Art Prize’, Pat Corrigan Photographic Acquisition Prize; 1998 – Minister’s Award for Excellence in Art: Regional exhibition; 1998 – David Alcock Memorial Arts Award. COLLECTIONS: Patrick Corrigan collection, Art Galleries Schubert collection, Gold Coast City Art Gallery Collection, Metro 5 Gallery Collection, Toowoomba Regional Art Gallery Collection, Institute of Technology Sydney Collection, Parliament House, Minister’s Boardroom, Brisbane.



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