Just off Regent Street and above the restaurants of Heddon Street lies Pippy Houldsworth Gallery with its roster of inventive artists. The latest solo show is of Yuken Teruya’s intricate trees and shoots sculpted from paper bags and newspapers.
Each work is painstakingly hand cut and uses the colours of the bag itself to great effect. For example, the pictures of fruit on Pret A Manger bags create colourful trees in stark contrast to the white interior of the bag. When we spoke to the artist he stressed the importance of connecting these omnipresent paper bags to their origins, and how city dwellers tend to be distanced from the fact that trees are cut down to create these paper bags.
The use of boutique bags from the likes of Chanel and Tiffany’s offer the strongest contrast. These high-end commercial outlets can be viewed as the epitome of materiality, yet Teruya’s work links them back to the natural world, and the shops’ dependence on it to create the bags they present to their customers.
The artist is also able to create trees from toilet roll tubes, and shoots sprouting from newspaper front pages. By purposefully choosing a front page scene of devastation from the Japan tsunami, the shoots sprouting from the fiery image suggest an optimism by the artist — that people have the innate ability to bounce back from serious suffering and setbacks.
Though there are sociopolitical messages within Teruya’s work, it’s the intricacy of his work that impresses the most and ensures that visitors will be entranced and in awe of his sculptures.
Yuken Teruya: New Work is on at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery, 6 Heddon St, W1B 4BT until 5 October. Admission is free.