The focal point of Yanghwa’s paintings are swimming pools. The pools bring to the scene a sense of tranquillity, and with this, a place of refuge. Since 1846, our House has been a place of refuge for the “waifs and strays of the turbid sea of human society.” We can draw parallels with Yanghwa’s work, visual and symbolic sanctuaries, as the security of our House has helped disadvantaged people throughout the centuries.
Swimming pools are a main subject of my Safe Zone series. They are interesting and fascinating spaces to me as they give me huge comfort and solitude at the same time. I feel separated from a busy and chaotic world when I swim, and can fully concentrate on myself, physically and psychologically. Initially considered the idea of a swimming pool as a utopia; to me, it is a dream- or paradise-like place where I would like to be all the time. However, a swimming pool could be more appropriately considered a heterotopia than a utopia, as it exists in reality.
My recent paintings are ongoing construction sites, depict a real site of gentrification in South London where my studio also used to be situated. Since a property developer bought one of the old buildings, artists could rent workspaces for uncertain periods of the time until permission was granted to build a new luxurious apartment. To build someone’s bright new home, some artist had to lose their workplace. These could even be life threatening for people who have lived in an area for years or for their whole lives. In this series, I reflect on those who are implicated most due to gentrification.