BELFAST — Celebrating the interrelationships within the natural world is a central theme in the work of Japanese-born artist Ayano Matsumae. Matsumae was at the opening of her exhibition, “Ten eN” on Oct. 24 at the Observatory at Smudge Studio in Belfast. Her art, some of which was created during the opening, will be on display until Nov. 19.

“My work is very instinctual and natural,” said Matsumae. “It makes connections in nature, and we are a part of those connections.”

Matsumae’s work includes photographs printed on natural paper and exposed in sunlight, and the enso, or Zen, circle, which she created in public for the first time at the Oct. 24 opening.

Matusumae caught the attention of Observatory co-owner Elizabeth Ellsworth in New York.

“I was sitting in a Zen circle and looking at this woman,” Ellsworth said of Matsumae. “We had been coming there every day for weeks. One day we spoke to each other and became friends.”

Much of Matsumae’s exhibit at the Observatory is photographic. She takes photos of the natural world — driftwood, a stand of birches, a shoreline — with a vintage camera.

The photographs are presented on large-format albumen prints. Albumen print is a print made out of egg whites. The photographs are then exposed in sunlight.

Ayano Matsumae’s photography is set on a print made of egg whites and exposed in sunlight. Photo by Jim Leonard

“Sometimes it takes two days to fully expose the photos,” Matsumae said. “Sometimes it takes two weeks.” Matsumae’s photography is displayed with her poetry.

The New Jersey resident created the final piece of her exhibition during the opening at the Observatory. Using a Zen circle, or enso, on the floor of the studio, the artist used her hands to fashion a design on the circle with materials gathered locally.

Matsumae says that creating the enso is reliant upon instinct.

“I move the materials around the circle,” Matsumae said. “I try not to think but move on instinct. I get out of my own mind and stop moving when my body tells me to.” The circle made at the Observatory is the artist’s first time creating the enso in public.

Artist Ayano Matsumae finishes her enso creation during the opening of her exhibition at the Observatory in Belfast. Photo by Jim Leonard

The exhibition is accompanied by video, shot by Matsumae, of nature scenes designed to highlight the interrelationships in the natural world.

“I celebrate the transitions of all things,” she said. “Everything in nature is in transition, and interrelated.”