WINNER ‘ART INSTALLATION OF THE YEAR’ Design in Mental Health 2019
Performative Live Art piece inspired by Japanese tea ceremonies and board game play. The piece draws on the 1906 text Book of Tea, by Okakura Kakuzo, which translates the key tenets of Tea master Sen no Rikyu’s 16th century ‘Tea -ism’ into English.
Drawing on the Japanese philosophy of tea as an intimate community encounter, the experience uses reflection, tactile materials and sensory stimulation to create a safe and uplifting ‘chance’ meeting, in which visitors as ‘guests’ speak freely with their host.
Designed as a site-specific installation in a disused cork factory - adjacent to a London Underground station, the work reached out to people living, working and passing through a cultural and commercial hub in London, SE1.
At the centre of the installation is a bespoke ‘tea table’ in the form of an esoteric board game, set amongst antique table linens, as artefacts of memory. Precious table linens also represent those special occasions at which bare tables, and personal truths, are often hidden beneath pristine cloths.
The table was inspired by origami, conceived as a personal item, and designed to function like a magical valise. It sits within a curated environment that is interactive, tactile and fragrant, to ease dialogue between guest and host. Handmade cards gently guide the discourse of the session.
As in Japanese ceremonies, the encounter nods to the guiding principles of harmony, respect, purity and tranquility, to encourage visitors to ‘cherish their unpolished selves’.
Slabs of plywood placed astride bales of antique and vintage table linens stand in for tea house benches. The seating design requires host and guest to work in harmony and balance, to ensure comfort and safety as they move together to each side of the table throughout the experience.
Strong colours in a low contrast palette present a visually calm and uplifting setting that supports positive shared reflection.
Each sitting generates one piece of the expanding companion installation ‘Even on my knees,’ which builds a sense of community by capturing and memorialising reflections into a growing altarpiece and tapestry .
A fragile tribute in the form of a shrine draws on references to Japanese Shinto and tarot to celebrate the human condition.
Four fragile posts of gathered bamboo canes support a growing canopy cloud of vintage teapot covers, each memorialising an encounter — revealing the items, but not the context, in which they were selected.
The form recalls the four posts of Torii Gates seen in Japanese Shinto shrines. Four posts are also seen as symbols of celebration, stability and something that can be grown together in traditional versions of the four of wands tarot card, which depicts people standing beneath a white canopy draped over four tall canes. Similar meanings are attached to the huppah (chuppah), the white canopy draped over four posts used in some Jewish religious wedding ceremonies.
Written reflections from guests at the Upside Down Table are each attached to the antique kimono tie they selected at the start. After the encounter, the guest weaves their reflection tie into the growing tapestry rising from the base of the shrine on a collective and infinite pathway towards the sky. Visitors are asked to kneel down, if they are able, to read the reflections. In so doing we kneel in an act of momentary supplication to our fellow citizens, in celebration of our collective survival of the human condition. Four harmonic bamboo bells can be rung by visitors to celebrate the winds of change.
Each piece on the structure memorialises an encounter. New pieces are sewn to the existing structure in a manner that will keep the overall structure in balance.
The tapestry expands as new guests weave in their chosen ceremonial strands. A visitor reads guest reflections.
Photos: Bernadette Baksa
Even on my knees, 2018
‘Positive pavements’, Tyler Moorehead 2018. Chalk paint stencil on concrete.
A series of positive phrases sprinkled across locations in Bankside, as part of the 2018 Merge Arts Festival focused on feeling good.
Words of encouragement were placed under foot and repeated on pavements across Bankside streets. The simple, slightly cheesy messages were designed to catch a downward gaze and raise a smile. Pavements were stencilled across cracks and stains, the chalk paint fading away after six weeks.
Positive pavements were designed to complement the Smiley Company’s ‘Bankside Smileys’ public street hoardings across the area as part of the Festival.
Produced by Tyler Moorehead for Merge Festival 2018.
Dark walls: interior landscapes
Acrylic paint on wood board, 2018.
A study of scale and context exploring distorted perception.
The resulting paintings are disorienting, imaginary landscapes. Shadow and contrast from the original photos, painted out of focus and out of context, are unsettling. Richly coloured and improbably sensuous, they are intended to appear unreal, yet strangely familiar - hinting at landscapes easily found in the spaces between the walls and furnishings of our own homes.
‘Dark walls’ references an online search term used to locate interiors following the trend for deeply coloured walls. It might suggest mystery or foreboding and hints at the oppression our material possessions can sometimes breed.
EMBRACE: Things that unite us
EMBRACE: The things that unite us
EMBRACE: The things that unite us.
Interactive installation of ‘huggable’ soft sculptures. Visitors were invited to breach the 4th gallery wall and touch, squeeze or embrace the tactile pieces incorporating scent, responsive light or sound, or other sensory stimulation.
Large scale ‘sensory icons’ , each corresponding to a different emotional postures we bring into one-to-one relationships. Made from vintage kimonos, mingling high and low status materials in non-traditional ways to demonstrate the beauty of cultural integration. Thick with layers of soft foam and bamboo, hand and machine tailoring was used to construct cases of textured silk repurposed from vintage and ceremonial kimonos.
Conceived in the wake of rising social and political divisiveness in 2016, initial responses to lost the art of civil discourse asked: Could the universal language of the embrace step in? What is required from us when we do? Hexagons on each piece represent ‘seals’ covering the emotional scars - the hurts that unite us all. Hexagons are a recurrent symbols in Japanese design, with auspicious meanings of communication, balance, good fortune and union.
Photos: Liz Gorman
FROM THE HEART (TRUTH), 2016
FROM THE HEART (TRUTH), 2016 LED LIGHTS
NECESSARY CONFLICT (SELF-EXPRESSION), 2017
NECESSARY CONFLICT (SELF-EXPRESSION), 2017
NECESSARY CONFLICT (SELF-EXPRESSION) DETAIL, 2017
FRONT (EGO), 2017
FRONT (EGO) DETAIL, 2017 WITH LED LIGHTS
ROUGH WAVES (COMPLEXITY), 2017
ROUGH WAVES (COMPLEXITY), 2017
BLUE RAINBOW (GROWTH), 2016 W SCENT BELLS
BLUE RAINBOW (GROWTH) DETAILS, 2016
HEARTSTRINGS (HARMONY), 2017
ACROSS THE DIVIDE (DIFFERENCE), 2017
ACROSS THE DIVIDE (DIFFERENCE) DETAIL, 2017
TAKE ME AS I AM (VULNERABILITY), 2017 WITH RESPONSIVE SOUND
‘Kabuki BAM!’, Tyler Moorehead, 2017
Drawings on paper. Coloured pencil, gold oil paste on vellum.
The artist explores identity, self-expression and conventions of beauty with portraits of fictional heroines that re-imagine the ancient Japanese art of Kabuki.
The work considers how future beauty aspirations might be rooted in transformation, through sensual and original self-design, rather than emulation of celebrated strangers.
Borrowing from the tradition of religious icons with their halos and applied gold, portraits are rendered informally, in coloured pencil and gold cream on paper, setting each subject against her own distinctly coloured halo.
In the art of Kabuki, the concentrated act of applying intricate make-up is designed to aid a human actor’s transformation into a superhuman or supernatural being onstage. Kabuki actors apply their own makeup in order to better understand their own faces and the character they portray.
The white paint and graphic lines are not to mask the face, but to highlight and accentuate its true character. Gold paint and dyed puffs of afro hair stand in as modern equivalencies to the face powder and graphics of Kabuki.
Reviving the 1970s 'afro puff' as a structural building block, the artist seeks to counter notions of natural afro hair as ‘ugly’, ‘political’ or ‘unfeminine’.
The work considers how a fresh aesthetic - striking, witty and dynamic - might look as a route to creative self-expression for women of any race, age, size and ability. It explores how the choices we make about our appearance are scrutinised, perceived and interpreted, and seeks to break the shackles of living through another’s gaze, depicting women with agency to determine their own form of unique and superhuman beauty, as individual works of art.
Losing my head
Losing my head, Tyler Moorehead, 2018
Coloured pencil on paper.
Concept drawings for exploration of sensory devices for stimulation or deprivation. Conceived as thick, felt-latticed spheres with colourful padded leather yokes at the aperture, the potential for envelopment as compelling as the visual of headless beings, conjoined to an object they cannot live without
The Yin & Yang of the Dinner Party of Life
Acrylic paint and pencil on antique linen and lace canvas, 2017. 3 pieces from group exhibition, ‘Mysteries’, AreByte Gallery, London.
Human conflict and relationships interpreted as yin yang energy out of balance. Vintage tablecloth canvases locate the dysfunction as that universal symbol of difficult conversation, the dinner party table.
The pieces explore the geometry of human dynamics . Symbols from popular and ancient culture combine to suggest non-verbal signals as a route to common ground.
Vintage tablecloths symbolise those times marked out as special, when both furniture and difficult issues are swept under the table, rather than discussed.
Strong lines is a trilogy of textile compositions re-working mid-century Japanese textiles to evoke earlier periods in its history, as well as periods in African tribal culture in an effort to locate points of intersection.
Intersecting lines of discourse or lines of yarn in cloth can provide strength. Each piece describe s a different aspect of strength explored.
Royal Opera House
Group exhibition of fantasy costumes for the Giselle Festival promoting the opening weekend of the ballet at ROH. The brief was to develop strong life-sized characters, features, clothing and accessories based on research from costume mistresses and reference materials about the period and character motivations. Materials were restricted to white paper, white string and tape. Collaborating artists: Gerrard Martin, Kiraly St. Claire, Daisy King, Carole King, Freespace Gallery, London.
Social Fabric Initiative for mental health and wellbeing
Social Fabric is a community arts collaboration platform for exploring improvements to mental and emotional health through workshops, events and interventions.
Developed with and for people with lived experience of mental health, Social Fabric aims to engage with communities of people ‘of all mental experience'.
Social Fabric @Dragon Cafe: A Handmade Recovery donated tired wing chairs from healthcare facilities to London-based charity, Mental Fight Club, for upholstery workshops at their popular ‘Dragon Cafe’ arts programme.
The collaboration was designed to highlight the importance of creativity in mental health recovery, with Tyler running upholstery workshops to take the chairs from 'tired to inspired' in aid of the ‘Dragon Cafe’, using donated African wax print fabrics.
Special collaboration labels were designed by Ellie Good @EllieDoubleYolk based on a service user’s winning drawing. Labels were handmade by award winning embroidery artist, Jacky Puzey, @JackyPuzey, on vintage orange silk fabric offcuts.
Mental Fight Club’s Dragon Cafe was developed 'by mental health service users for mental health service users'. The cafe welcomes more than 200 regular participants to its south London hub each week for imaginative, high quality events and nutritious vegetarian food, free to all. The project is supported by the Guys & St Thomas' Hospital Charity and Maudsley Charity. and has been awarded funding from the London Evening Standard’s Dispossessed Fund.
@poetrylawyer performing in a finished chair at the launch event.
Finished chair at the launch event.
Dragon Cafe photos courtesy Liz Gorman photography, London @lizgorman
11th Annual Bermondsey Festival, London
Costumes and headpieces
Thematic head pieces representing 5 key attributes the popular area is known for: Fashion & Textiles, Art & Crafts, Food & Drink, Architecture & Design and Parklife. Vintage and found materials. Worn by @PombaGirls Pomba Girls, London.
Updated frock coat look with vintage textiles, buttons and sleeve ruffs for the Town Crier role, played by performance poet @poetrylawyer David Nieta, London and Chicago.
Constructed with used thread spools, 1930s wooden shoe trees, vintage faux rununculus flower heads, central copper plate adapted from broken vintage necklace, discarded fake foliage.
Vintage finds sourced in local area.
Town Crier with faux leather ‘poet’s cape’ draped over coat.