1st September – 22 October 2019. Creative Talent Artists in Residence at Bamboo Curtain Studios, Zhuwei, Taipei, Taiwan. http://bambooculture.com/en
Exploring our relationship with water and the materials that it collects and carries on its journey.
This work focused around an investigation of dust and water, specifically the Plum Tree Creek that runs through Zhuwei (intersecting with a previous work by Wu Mali; Art as Environment – A Cultural Action at Plum Tree Creek. 2011/2012 and with which Bamboo Curtain Studios have a continuing relationship). In the past, people lived in close relationship to the river, using it for drinking, watering crops and washing clothes. Zhuwei become more populated in the 1970’s, large blocks of apartments were built and the river was covered by paths and roads. The water became polluted by discharge from waste pipes from houses and intensive farming effluent and as a result people become disconnected from the water. Even though the creek is less polluted these days, most people do not see it as any way being part of their lives.
Process: We were interested in the particles of material that the creek collects and carries as it passes through Zhuwei and deposits as silt at its mouth where it flows into the Tamsui river. We collected this silt and passed it through a series of improvised filters until we had a fine clay.
We created a process that used the clay as a material in which to made impressions of botanical samples and then made casts of the impressions to form tiles. We created a mobile ‘SILT Field Laboratory’ and hiked along the creek collecting plants and carrying out public castings at various locations. The tiles captured moments in time and place and we gifted each one to people living and working by the water. These casting sites became places of conversation and exchange, people often returning the following day bringing gifts of fruit and food.
All the materials in this process are in circular movement, being transformed on the journey in different ways, from the city to the creek and back again. This is a collaboration with both place and people; part of a circular flow of new ideas and materials.
Above: Working at the mouth of the Plum Tree Creek
Above: Hiking, casting and gifting along the Plum Tree Creek beyond Zhuwei.
‘It journeys from the mountains
Through the valleys and farms, beneath the sleeping city
Gathering and combining fragments of place
Collecting failures and triumphs as it passes
Dreams and imaginings as it flows
Every wedding, every funeral, every aunt, uncle, sister, brother have left their traces
A microscopic record in the dust from the rain lashed streets
Finally arriving at the great river
Where the dust settles to silt
Sedimentary layer on sedimentary layer
An unread library of memories lying within the oceans reach‘
Moon – Water – Dust
Dust is composed of minute particles of human and more than human activity and as such is a carrier of information and stories. The Plum Tree Cree collects dust as it flows from its source through Zhuwei to settle as silt at the Tamsui River. In this work, silt from the mouth of the Plum Tree Creek was collected each day over a month’s lunar cycle and applied to card in varying degrees of dilution. Text exploring different elements of dust was applied over the silt. The text explores both the nature of dust and the stories it carries. Some of the stories are fictional and others are based on the artist’s observations as they hiked the Plum Tree Creek.
Moon-Water-Dust. Exhibition in Star-Catcher Gallery. Bamboo Curtain Studios. 25th/26th October
‘Museum of Future Keelung’
We presented ‘The Museum of Future Keelung’ workshop at Keeling Ciao 2019 Oct 12th 2019. Participants built speculative scenarios in order to reflect on social and environmental issues. The workshop used the format of The Museum of Future Food (Coleman and Hodges 2014) to explore the drivers and dynamics of change – political, economic, technological, cultural, ecological. For more information see our Museums of the FutureNow webpage or the Museums of the FutureNow website.
Museum of the FutureNow : Hybrid Umbrella Form
Umbrellas are everywhere in Taiwan, they are used for protection from the blisteringly hot sun and for shelter from the frequent typhoon rains. Taiwan was the world biggest manufacturer of umbrellas in the 1970’s producing 60 million a year however many companies have now moved production to China where labour costs are cheaper.
There are stands for umbrellas in public places such as MRT stations where you can pick up an umbrella if you need one and return it later. After a typhoon, broken umbrellas litter the streets. We collected these broken umbrellas to experiment with and constructed a ‘Hybrid Umbrella Form’ which we took into Zhuwei.
For the BCS Open Studios Event on 25th/26th October, the ‘Hybrid Umbrella Form’ was presented as an exhibit from the ‘Museum of the FutureNow’ with three possible futures. The scenarios use current issues such as predictions for the impact of climate change in Taiwan (more and stronger typhoons, more flooding) and the use of umbrellas in protest movements in Hong Kong as a basis.
We arrived in Taiwan just before the important Mid-Autumn Festival (中秋節). A key part of the contemporary holiday celebrations are outdoor barbecues and karaoke as well as offering traditional Moon Cakes between friends and family. The traditional Moon Cakes are filled with red bean or date paste and some have a salted egg in the centre to represent the moon. Moon Cakes have an imprint on the top consisting of the Chinese characters for “longevity” or “harmony”. We discovered that very few people make Moon Cakes these days, instead they are bought from bakeries. We decided to learn to hand make them and also made new moulds for the pattern on the top relating to the moon’s impact on seed growth.
‘Creek Cake’ Workshop
We held a workshop where participants learnt how to bake traditional moon cakes and hand made individual moulds. The workshop was a place for discussion around food, tradition and consumerist culture. Why aren’t these traditional cakes handmade any more? Is there value in making more time to make? The Cakes were taken as an offering to participants on the Plum Tree Community Hike on 29th September.
Presentations / Workshops and other events during our residency:
- Presentation of our work at Taipei Annual, Taipei Expo. 7th Sept. https://avat-art.org/taiwanannual2019
- Attendance at seminar “In Art We Care: Eco-Sustainable Action”, Taipei Artist Village. 24th Sept. http://bambooculture.com/en/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=151 Speakers Margaret Shui Founder of BCS and Wu Mali, artist (an overview of the eco-art actions carried out by BCS in the past), Marie le Sourd, Secretary General of On The Move Network and Zhou Ganoderma ; Eco Artist / Researcher. The workshop session covered; creating new relationships with water, ways of responding to ecological difficulties within the cultural environment and the challenges and value of international networks for ecological art and action.
- Cultural / Environmental Action: Hiking the Plum Tree Creek and demonstration of casting technique to community gathering. 29th Sept. http://bambooculture.com/en/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=152
- Attending Fridays for Future Climate Action, Taipei. 27th Sept. Speaking about Scotland’s response to Climate Emergency.
- Presentation of work at Keelung Ciao 5th October. https://en.keelungciao2019.com.tw
- Running Museum of the FutureNow workshop at Keelung Ciao, 12th Oct. https://en.keelungciao2019.com.tw/
- Running ‘Presence’ organizational development workshop for BCS staff, 17th Oct
- Surviving Typhoon Mitag 1st October!
- Exhibition of work at Open Studio Days 25th/26th Oct. http://bambooculture.com/en/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=159
We are grateful for the support of DGU and Dumfries and Galloway Council.
We are also grateful to Artists Information Company for providing a bursary that enabled us to undertake the residency in order to facilitate wider conversations with artists and organisations about art and social and environmental action.