3 July – 21 September 2014

Mon–Fri 9.00 – 20.00, Sat 9.00 – 17.00, Sun 10.00–17.00


Aiko Miyanaga has created her first UK site-specific installations in Liverpool Central Library’s Picton Reading Room. This was the very first electrically lit public library, and for the exhibition the lighting is purposely switched off to commemorate its importance.

To Miyanaga, ‘a library is composed of strata of information – presents consisting within pasts. Where we stand by to observe, and what we choose to read represent certain boundaries and reflections of thoughts.’ 

Within the enclosed system of the glass case behind the library’s historic magnifying glass, the naphthalene sublimates and re-solidifies to release itself from the shape of the keys. Instead of disappearing into air, it is continuously crystallised through the conditions of temperature and humidity, and even the breath of the visitors. This lens – more than a century old – had been used instead of the readily available glasses today. It contains no trace of the words read through it over the years, instead rested air bubbles and crystallised naphthalene stand in place of the words, ideas, and imagination of the authors.

Aiko Miyanaga Installation shots of Strata: Slumbering on the Shore at the Liverpool Central Library, 2014, mixed media Image: Leo Bieber
Aiko Miyanaga
Installation shots of Strata: Slumbering on the Shore at the Liverpool Central Library, 2014, mixed media
Image: Leo Bieber

By contrast, the series of cast naphthalene keys encapsulated in resin books have a limited airflow, holding them in a stable state as they lie dormant for their moment to be integrated into reading. Miyanaga suggests the possibility of the crystallisation of the whole reading room, encapsulating it in a state of sleep, waiting to be awakened.

Through an array of media that may seem delicate, Miyanaga contrasts material resilience with nature in flux; her work reflects on our being and surroundings. Shore may be the boundary between sea and land, yet it is not a definitive line. The indefinite is a characteristic of her work, and makes each of us as a witness of connecting with a larger whole, a stage in the continuous cycle of the elements. Her artwork becomes an apparatus that asks us to pause, to look beyond the present and to wonder with serendipity.

Aiko Miyanaga (born in 1974 in Kyoto) graduated from Graduate School of Fine Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts in 2008 and is a Visiting Scholar at the University of Kyoto Art and Design. Her notable exhibitions include: Sapporo International Art Festival 2014, (Sapporo, 2014); House, Mizuma Art Gallery (Tokyo, 2013); Aiko Miyanaga: Nakasora – The reason for eternity, The National Museum of Art (Osaka, 2012); Beginning of the landscapes, Mizuma Art Gallery (Tokyo, 2011); Aichi Triennale 2010, Aichi Arts Center (Nagoya, 2010), Mirage of Water at Shiseido Art Egg (Tokyo, 2009). She received the grand prize of the Nissan Art Award 2013, Japan; The Gotoh Memorial Foundation Newcomer’s Art Prize; and The Creative Tradition Prize by Japan Arts Foundation, Japan, 2011; winner of the Best Young Artist Award by ShContemporary 09 – Discoveries, China.

White Rainbow is a new gallery specialising in contemporary art from Japan that will open this autumn on Mortimer Street, London W1. Exhibiting artists, both established and emerging, who are recognised in Japan but often unknown in the UK, White Rainbow will act as a platform to develop the education and appreciation of Japanese art through exhibitions, events and projects. In addition to the Liverpool Central Library show, the gallery will present new work by Aiko Miyanaga for its opening exhibition in October.

The Picton Reading Room Liverpool Central Library, William Brown Street, Liverpool L3 8EW


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