NORI MONOGATARI, 2018
Research and community based project.
Tokywa museum, Ube, Japan
NORI MONOGATARI is a site responsive research project based on participatory textile with elementary school children for the creation of an installation displayed in the beautiful setting of Tokiwa Gallery at Tokiwa Museum.
Utilizing the medium and techniques of textile I researched the local culture. I wanted to focus on a topic that could be understood by the children and would raise awareness around the potential of their city and its heritage.
Thanks to the crucial support of the staff members I was able to identify the perfect material for my project: recycled fishing nets. This material embodies the local tradition of seaweed farming and production and the importance of Ube as a port city.
Following the lines and dots of those fishing nets, I discovered a special and important part of japanese culture which is strongly connected to history, environment and the slow change of life habits and climate changes. I’ve discovered a rooted and compelling story which is on the verge of disappearing. The fishermen association told us that the production of Nori is probably meant to stop in ten years time.
During participative sessions of making I’ve shared my discoveries with the children and invited them to create their own interpretation of NORI and the fishing life in Ube.
We had several workshops, all of them starting off with a short presentation displaying some picture from Ube’s port and the process of growing, collecting and make sheets of nori.
We asked the children to create collaborative drawings based on their own visual interpretation of NORI and sea life.
After 5 minutes they were asked to pass the drawing to their neighbour. This brought to the creation of more than 120 collaborative drawings displayed together as a unicum in the Gallery space.
During the second part of the workshop we asked the children to use their recycled clothes and the fishing nets to weave on a circular structure made out of take.
These round frames would become a communal object. To understand the idea behind these cells like shapes, we showed the kids the image of NORI, seen through the lenses of a microscope. Their round piece of art would resemble a cell in a bigger structure when connected with the others.
Another of the tasks we proposed focused on creating algae and marine shapes with the technique textile collage.
An exciting part of the project has been developed during a 8 hours workshop in a local elementary school. We worked on communal hand weaving by using our hands to create a big and colorful tapestry.
These tapestries were displayed in the gallery in meaningful connection with my woven sculpture.
The final display in the museum was meant to connect together the children artworks and my own interpretation of Ube and NORI.
On a take structure, I have layered old fishing nets worked upon with a hand knotting technique. The texture of my weaving proved to be very organic and reminded me of a 'cluster of seaweed on the ocean floor.
The shape of my sculpture is like a submersed mountain covered by layers of nets.
At last, in the space of the gallery, is possible to hear some of the voices we recorded during our field trips at Ube port together with a projection of a fisherman and his wife fishing. For me this is a really strong image that communicate a lot of Japanese culture and ways of living.
A world that speaks about traditions, hard work and a special connection to land and the sea.
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