Hattie Lloyd 24/08/21


An art installation using broken pottery’s about to open in London.

It sounds smashing.

Particularly when you consider the pedigree behind it: this interactive artwork is the brainchild of none other than Yoko Ono, who premiered the piece 55 years ago at London’s counter-cultural Indica Gallery.

And, you know, has done a few other things since.

Taking over two gallery spaces of the Whitechapel Gallery, the piece revolves around a long table covered with crockery that’s been smashed to smithereens. All you’re given is some glue, tape, and the simple, poetic instructions:

Mend carefully.
Think of mending the world
at the same time.

You’ll be invited to take a seat at the table, and start doing your bit to piece the broken shards back together. And if you’re thinking, ‘hmm, this bears a striking resemblance to the Japanese process of kintsugi – repairing broken pottery with liquid gold lacquer so as to make the restored object even more beautiful than the original’, then you’d be absolutely right. It’s a technique that ties in with the aesthetic philosophy of wabisabi, which celebrates imperfection and impermanence. Ono’s belief is that by engaging with the act of mending these broken cups, pots and plates, you can contemplate your role in repairing the world.

Once you’ve completed your work of art, you can display it alongside everyone else’s reconstructed pottery on the shelves lining the gallery walls. Slowly, the smashed-up chaos on the tables will dissipate, and the collective efforts of the gallery’s visitors will build up to create a hodge-podge, imperfect, but nevertheless profound representation of the world.

After all, the most important shard you’ll find on that table…

…is the inner piece.


NOTE: Yoko Ono’s MEND PIECE runs at The Whitechapel Gallery from 25th August – 2nd January 2022. It’s open Tues-Sun, 11am-6pm, and is totally free to visit – find out more HERE. If you’re feeling peckish afterwards, we’d heartily recommend Townsend.

Yoko Ono: MEND PIECE | The Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, E1 7QX

Like thinking about fixing the world? Check out Our Broken Planet at the Natural History Museum…


The Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, Whitechapel, E1 7QX