NORI MONOGATARI, 2018
Research and community-based project.
Tokywa Museum, Ube, Japan
NORI MONOGATARI is a site-responsive research project based on participatory textiles with elementary school children to create an installation displayed in the beautiful setting of the Tokiwa Gallery at Tokiwa Museum.
Utilizing the medium and techniques of textiles, I researched the local culture. I wanted to focus on a topic that could be understood by the children and would raise awareness about the potential of their city and its heritage.
Thanks to the staff members' crucial support, I could 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 unique and essential part of Japanese culture strongly connected to history, environment and the slow change of life habits and climate changes. I've found 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.
During participative-making sessions, I shared my discoveries with the children and invited them to create their interpretation of NORI and the fishing life in Ube.
We had several workshops, all starting with a short presentation displaying a picture from Ube's port and the process of growing, collecting and making sheets of Nori.
We asked the children to create collaborative drawings based on their visual interpretation of NORI and sea life.
After 5 minutes, they were asked to pass the drawing to their neighbour. This resulted in more than 120 collaborative drawings displayed together as a unicum in the Gallery space.
During the workshop's second part, we asked the children to use their recycled clothes and the fishing nets to weave a circular structure made out of take.
These round frames would become a communal object. To understand the idea behind these cell shapes, we showed the kids the image of NORI, seen through the lenses of a microscope. Their round art would resemble a cell in a more prominent structure when connected with the others.
Another of the tasks we proposed focused on creating algae and marine shapes with the technique of textile collage.
An exciting part of the project has been developed during an 8 hours workshop in a local elementary school. We worked on communal hand weaving by using our hands to create a significant and colourful tapestry.
These tapestries were displayed in the gallery in a meaningful connection with my woven sculpture
The final display in the museum was meant to connect the children's artworks and my 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 submerged mountain covered by layers of nets.
At last, in the gallery space, it 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. This is a powerful image that communicates much of Japanese culture and ways of living.
A world that speaks about traditions, hard work and a special connection to the land and the sea.
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