For the 2017 Bella Commission, Kate Beynon has created a space filled with good luck charms drawn from her mixed Chinese and Welsh heritage. Taking the form of soft sculptures, more than 500 charms line the walls of the Bella Room, reminiscent of hieroglyphs or ancient Chinese pictograms.
Visitors are invited to engage with the work by selecting, placing and rearranging the symbols – encouraging Bella participants to create patterns, messages and their own associations of meaning. Beynon also created a series of floor cushions featuring the lucky symbols, as well as an animation which plays on a screen outside the Bella Room. This multi-sensory approach is central to the artwork, encouraging visitors to engage through visual, tactile and auditory activities. The soft objects and bright colours create a space for reflection and relaxation, while the symbols and icons offer positive energy, healing and protection.
For Room of Lucky Charms, Beynon developed a series of 11 symbols with personal, spiritual and cultural significance, referring to Buddhist, Taoist and Celtic designs and beliefs. Many of the symbols refer to plants and animals, such as the gingko leaf, orange, lotus bud and ‘happiness bat’; or to the human body through eyes, heart, lips and hands. Beynon painted the 11 symbols, each with a reverse side featuring calligraphic text or characters, in vibrant watercolour and gouache, which were scanned and printed on fabric.
A fascination with good-luck imagery has been an ongoing theme in Kate Beynon’s work. Beynon spent her childhood immersed in lucky symbols from Chinese and Welsh culture. Imagery such as Chinese ‘happiness bats’ and Celtic knots decorated furniture, objects and textiles in her family home. Her maternal grandmother gifted her charm bracelets and carved jade pendants featuring lucky characters and signs. She has explored similar imagery, such as charms, amulets, talismans and symbols, through a variety of mediums in previous artworks, exploring the inter-cultural and personal significance of charms, and how they touch on notions of magic, protection and positive energy.
The Bella Room commission series invites an artist or artist group each year to realise an interactive artwork for people with access needs. Kathy Temin’s, The Koala Room is the fifth annual Bella Room commission. Previous Bella Room artists have been Emily Floyd, Hiromi Tango, Brown Council, and David Capra.
The MCA Bella program was established in 1993 through the generosity of MCA patrons, Dr Edward Jackson AM and Mrs Cynthia Jackson AM, and the Jackson family, in memory of their late daughter and sister Belinda.