A kimono made of brass wire mesh shines on a black background, the sleeves are so suggestively folded you can almost feel a ritual going on. But for viewers who know nothing about Japanese tradition, it's difficult to imagine it's related to a festival in Japan and that it's questioning the happiness of women. These kimonos, or 'fibre art pieces' in Fumino Hora's exhibition pose interesting questions: can foreigners really appreciate the sensitivity of a Japanese woman who has been living in a culture so inaccessible to outsiders? Can one go back to a tradition to find an answer for a modern question? Hora's kimonos are inspired by Hina Matsuri or Girl's Festival. Celebrated on March 3, the festival first originated about 1,000 years ago in the Heian Period (794-1192). On this day parents traditionally display ceremonial dolls: the emperor, the empress and courtiers, all dressed in the fashion of people in ancient palaces. In this way, it is believed, the girls in the house will have happiness. Because the ceremonial dolls are not displayed in the exhibition, it is hard for the viewer to immediately see the link and the difference between Hora's kimonos and the dolls. A photograph in a book displayed at the exhibition provides some information: Hora's pieces are bigger; the ceremonial dolls are placed on shelves covered in scarlet materials and Hora's kimonos are placed on a wooden board covered with black linen. But can either the dolls or the kimonos make some viewers more sensitive to the artist's question: 'What is happiness for a woman?' Because while the concept of happiness of women has a place in many traditions in Asia, the question itself is very much a modern product from the West. And if one tries to find an answer in the traditional mindset, it is unlikely that one can be satisfied. 'I asked myself this question when I arrived in Hong Kong,' says Hora. 'In Japan, a woman is not suppose to express her opinions or complain, so if she has anything to say, she has to say it to the dolls.' Hora ended up looking at Hina Matsuri carefully and making her own dolls in a time-consuming and energy-sapping manner. She chose brass wire mesh to work with. Perhaps this is a mini version of the artist's long struggle to express herself. A mother of two, Hora came to Hong Kong 10 years ago. She liked art but her parents discouraged her to take fine arts when she went to Seikei University in Tokyo so she studied English literature. Last year she got a degree in fine arts from Royal Melbourne Institute and Technology. She attended the courses for the degree at Art Centre in Hong Kong and worked on the theme of female identity. The first doll she made was The Empress. It won her a second runner-up at the Philippe Charriol Foundation 17th Annual Art Competition in 2002. What is the idea of happiness expressed in Hora's kimonos? The kimonos look soft and splendid from a distance, but stiff and strange up close. On brass sheets on the kimonos, photographic images are transferred from her family album. The human faces are small compared with the big kimonos. It's hard to tell whether the people are happy. 'When I began to work on these dolls, I started to think of the traditional concept of happiness for Japanese girls: they should be in a house, protected,' she says. 'I still don't know what happiness for a woman is after making the dolls.' Fumino Hora Sculptures, 10 Chancery Lane Gallery. 11am-7pm, Tue-Fri; 11.30am-6pm Sat until Oct 18.