Unfolding the map

Nathan Hawkes


Having to remain here at Australia house the last 4 or 5 days has really helped us tune into the sensory aspects of nature here in the summer time. The insects whir and shimmer all around, and approach an almost deafening frenzy when you walk a little deeper into the forest. There is a kind of architecture to this sound, like thousands of cells vibrating, creating an audible structure. The cicada's and crickets are the most obvious but their endless sound is punctuated by the sudden loud calls of other insects. It reminds me quite a bit of the Australian bush in the summer - soaked in an extremely humid heat. The other benefit for us of Hugo's flu is we can work downstairs while Australia house is closed, and the view down here is a feast for the eyes, and it is wonderfully framed by the black pillars of Andrew Burns' architecture.

We were given a wonderful tour of traditional architecture today by Iizuka-san who owns a local construction company. This involved a visit to Gombe-san's 160 year house close to Australia House - what a treat to sit inside his and his wife, Sumie-san's beautiful home and have him sing for us - this man has an awesome voice! - he showed us up inside the roof of his house to see the way a traditional rice-straw thatch roof is constructed, and as we were leaving we were given a pair of rice straw thongs each made by Sumie-san - a perfect day!

Hugo has been asked to rest here a few more days, but Heidi and I have just begun to drive around and visit some of the works that are part of the Echigo-Tsumari Art Field and feel completely blown away by the quality of what we have seen, the way the works engage so deeply with the local area.

In following the map of artworks one traces the landscape of this unique place, its people and their traditions; the way the works are located all over this region encourage you to fully engage with the space between them.

Needless to say, the opportunity to follow the trail around the Echigo-Tsumari Art Field is reason alone to visit Japan, but the chance to contribute is extremely exciting. Now we just can't wait to begin learning from and collaborating with the local people!

Wooden box full of Sumie-san's hand made rice straw slippers. Photo by Nathan Hawkes

Wooden box full of Sumie-san's hand made rice straw slippers. Photo by Nathan Hawkes

Gombei-san singing for us

Gombei-san singing for us

Inside the Shedding House - one of the many awesome works of the Echigo Tsumari Art Field. Photo by Nathan Hawkes.

Inside the Shedding House - one of the many awesome works of the Echigo Tsumari Art Field. Photo by Nathan Hawkes.

Shinto Shrine in Urada. Photo by Nathan Hawkes

Shinto Shrine in Urada. Photo by Nathan Hawkes

The view from inside the workspace of Australia House. Photo by Nathan Hawkes

The view from inside the workspace of Australia House. Photo by Nathan Hawkes