10th April to 16th May, 2015

Indefinable Cities is an exhibition taking place at AirSpace Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent, England and then travelling to 6 Cities in Japan, with Tsukiyo to Syonen. Curated by Koh Yoshida (JP) and Anna Francis (UK)

The exhibition explores the development of cities worldwide, and in particular looks to capture the way that artists are responding to and documenting Cities in flux, and more; how artists impact on their environments and the regeneration of Cities.

AirSpace Gallery and Tsukiyo to Syonen (Osaka, Japan) are working together to realise this ambitious project which forms a dialogue between artists in Japan and the UK, to explore the nature of artist-led activity in the two countries. The two organisations have strong visual arts programmes, but in addition, have shared interests in exploring the interface between art and environmental concerns, regeneration, development and citizenship. The ‘Indefinable Cities’ project provides an opportunity to form a dialogue around this area of practice, and creates a space for International Conversations around the role that artists may have in contributing to the development of healthy, happy cities and what it means to have a socially engaged practice as an artist.

Indefinable Cities features the works of 6 artists - 3 from the UK - Emily Speed, Ben Cove and Rebecca Chesney and 3 from Japan - Ayaka Nishi, Hirofumi Suzuki and Daiki Murakami. The exhibition will open at AirSpace Gallery and then move to Japan, where the works will be exhibited at 6 venues across the country.

AirSpace Gallery instigated the conversation with Tsukiyo to Syonen back in 2012, during a research visit to Osaka, where curator and artist Anna Francis was interested in exploring the differences in artist led activity in the two countries. AirSpace Gallery were keen to find a partner to work with on the ambitious Indefinable Cities Exhibition, which picks up from the first ‘Indefinable City’ exhibition held at AirSpace in 2007, where 11 artists explored the consequences and effects on humans of our changing cities. City development and the artists role within it have continued to be a research concern for AirSpace Gallery, since 2007. Many of the gallery’s projects have sought to form dialogues around the nature of culture-led regeneration, advocacy and support for artists in making a difference in the places they live and work, and the adoption and nurturing of disused spaces in cities, in particular, recently with a connection to green space growing projects.

The particular geography and social and economic context of Stoke-on-Trent means there are many empty spaces around the city – this includes buildings, brownfield sites and other undeveloped plots. This affords particular opportunities for temporary activity to take place, which questions and proposes future use, as space can be acquired cheaply, and sometimes freely. Osaka, as a city has much less available space, and the cost of space is high, making it very difficult to sustain arts programmes in urban spaces . For this reason Tsukiyo to Syonen no longer run a permanent gallery space in the city, preferring to work with temporary pop up spaces, allowing them to be more responsive and flexible to the needs of the projects they work on, and far reaching in their geographic scope. In recent years Tsukiyon to Syonen has held exhibition and concerts in Yamanishi, Ishikawa, Shiga, Okayama, Hiroshima and many other provincial towns. In addition, since the 2011 earthquake many artists have left the big cities, for more rural locations. Indefinable Cities Exhibition will tour to 6 cities in Japan between July and August 2015 - exploring how geographically distant places can be connected. Conversations instigated and taking place during the exhibition will explore the differences between the two countries, and the impact that this has on the way that artists work.



Emily Speed’s interests lie in the relationship between people and buildings and her work explores the body and its relationship to architecture. The idea of shelter and the inhabitant is at the core of much of her work; how a person is shaped by the buildings they have occupied and how a person occupies their own psychological space.

The word inhabitant contains the root habit (dress) and implies a habitat (dwelling) and Speed's work often has this double function of being both shelter and clothing. The shelters act as an expression of the layers that we surround ourselves with; skin, clothing and walls.

Her work takes the form of sculptures, installations, performance, artist's books and film. Speed's work is often worn or performed, with sculptures constructed specifically to fit the body.


Ben Cove's initial training in architecture continues to feed directly into his art practice, particularly in terms of the physical and cultural legacies of Modernist practices and their associated visual languages.

He is primarily interested in forms of construction: the processes and languages of building; the construction of historic and personal narratives; the manner in which hierarchies are established and their relationship to the individual; notions of endeavour, failure or collapse and the relationship of the body to that which is designed and built around it.

He makes work across a range of media with individual works often conceived to form coexisting relationships to one another, frequently conceived with specific spaces in mind. Some works continue to utilise direct appropriation with a move towards a progressively more abstract painting and sculptural language that often questions the relationship between image and object.


Rebecca Chesney is interested in how we perceive land: how we romanticise, translate and define urban and rural spaces. Her practice looks at how politics, ownership, management and commercial value all influence our surroundings and within this field has made extensive investigations into the impact of human activities on nature and the environment.

Exploring the blurred boundaries between science and folklore, Chesney’s work is also concerned with how our understanding of species is fed by the confused mix of truth and fiction.

Her projects take the form of installations, interventions, drawings, maps and walks and are underpinned by research into the protection of the environment, conversations with scientists and a desire to make work specific to chosen locations.


Ayaka Nishi's practice takes as its starting point the Japanese literary tradition of 'monogatari', which is an extended prose narrative tale, comparable to an epic, and often related to the oral tradition of the telling and retelling of stories. In Nishi's case this relates to the anthropomorphisation of natural objects, where pebbles, twigs and shells etc are found to possess a small voice; in the work, even artefacts like old books, broken glass and plastic packages are found to speak, and these voices allow the artist to construct tales and conversations.

Nishi's work takes the form of collage, drawing, lithography and installation and aims to create poetic and nostalgic feelings in the viewer, summoning the viewer to a place between dreaming and waking when experiencing the work.

For Indefinable Cities Nishi has immersed herself in the fabric of Stoke-on-Trent, drawing on what the city has to offer, salvaging and rummaging in the cities overlooked spaces, Nishi has collected various discarded objects and materials. In a return to an installation work created in Hiroshima, Japan in 2011, where Nishi created small landscapes in the gallery, here works have been made with scrapped and discarded things, timber, iron, glass, plastics and shards of pottery are transformed.


Hirofumi Suzuki’s enduring practice, spanning over 30 years, takes the form of simple pencil drawings. Produced quickly, in large numbers and predominantly focusing on common aspects of everyday life. Suzuki’s drawings invest a value in a subject that may, on the surface, seem a touch mundane. Repeated journeys in various forms, provide the impetus for nameless portraits, or landscapes of nondescript urban locations.

The importance for Suzuki, however, lies as much in the activity as in the output - the act of stopping and focusing on a scene and then spending what may only be half an hour carefully recording the subject, transcends the mundane into something altogether more significant.

For Indefinable Cities Suzuki has produced drawings of urban locations in Osaka, Japan, making repeated visits to the same sites, in this way the drawings capture a city as it changes and the passage of time is captured within the parallel drawings. In addition, Suzuki has been making drawings of strangers on trains over many years - and these anonymous portraits are shown in a city far away from their origins.


Daiki Murakami is an artist, cartoonist, journalist and author. His wide-ranging practice spans manga, animation, drawing, installation, and sound art. Within his work he explores the human condition - its constantly shifting, fragile nature and personal and collective hopes and fears in contemporary life. This has variously taken the form of investing soon-to-be-demolished buildings with intricate wall drawings and allowing sculpted works made from degenerating materials to decompose in natural situations.

In 2013, Murakami moved to a small island in Hiroshima, where, unfunded, he transformed an old abandoned house into a gallery and project space, hosting art and music events both for island residents, and a broader visitor population. “A Happy Social Studies By An Anarchist”, Murakami’s first book, was published in December, 2014.
Within Daiki Murakami's practice he explores the crossovers between art and politics. Part political statement, part artwork, he will run for mayor of Onomichi City, Hiroshima. In anticipation of the upcoming election he first proposes to run for the mayor of art. He presents “An Anarchist Mayor’s Town Development Project” for the exhibition, exploring the notion that 'Art can not only make us believe that the imaginary world on paper is a reality but also change our perspectives.'

Less information

Indefinable Cities is an exhibition taking place at AirSpace Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent, England and then travelling to 6 Cities in Japan, with Tsukiyo to Syonen. Curated by Koh Yoshida (JP) and Anna Francis (UK)

The exhibition explores the development of cities worldwide, and in particular looks to capture the way that artists are responding to and documenting Cities in flux, and more; how artists impact on their environments and the regeneration of Cities.

More information


Indefinable Cities, poster
Indefinable Cities, Gallery View
Daiki Murakami
Ayaka Nishi
Hirofumi Suzuki
Emily Speed
Ben Cove
Rebecca Chesney

AirSpace Gallery is a collaborative, artist led project in Stoke-on-Trent, providing professional development opportunities, studio and exhibiting space and support for artists.

Through a dynamic and evolving programme of exhibitions, events and activities AirSpace Gallery brings critical, high quality contemporary art to the region and provides opportunities for a broad range of artists.

Company Limited by Guarantee Registered in England and Wales No. 0653043

Visit AirSpace Gallery

4 Broad Street
City Centre

Open during exhibitions

Thursday to Saturday
11:00am to 5:00pm
Tuesdays and Wednesdays
by appointment

+44(0)1782 26 12 21


Site by design.counterwork