In another land

Heidi Axelsen

The surface of the land is finally visible, meters below the surface we encountered in the winter and the summer. Obscured by heavy blanket of snow, or thick rushes of tall grasses, I can finally step out into the land & touch the actual ground. 

Spring…It is the perfect time for us to locate a site for the artwork, which is the main mission of this May trip. The impenetrable tall woody grasses have been flattened by the weight of four meters of snow and have become a thick bristly hair combed down the hillside. We can now scale the hills and understand what kind of soil we will be working with, how the footings of the artwork can tread on this earth and where we can find the bubbling little streams that will flow into our work. 

I hope the current shape of the land, clear and unobscured, is a metaphor for this phase of our work. In other words, I hope we are reaching a point in our project where we gain the clarity and permission to build on a site. 

It has been both a delight and a challenge working on a project within a different cultural landscape. We are constant process of decoding & navigating a silhouetted form trying to uncover the detail and texture. At times it feels like we are discovering the parameters & shape of this project by bumping into the obscured walls around us.

We have the unique opportunity to develop our work over an extended period with returning trips, along the way building ties with the people and the land here and discovering more about this way of life. This is the time of year when the coils of baby fern are collected, people are climbing the hillsides forage the fern quickly before it grows too big and you can longer eat the tender stems. The pace of life is governed by the rhythm of nature here. 


Exploring spring in Echigo Tsumari. Photo by Hugo Moline (left), photo by Heidi Axelsen (right)

Exploring spring in Echigo Tsumari. Photo by Hugo Moline (left), photo by Heidi Axelsen (right)

Karoke singing 'Stand by me at 'Ohanami' Urada Spring festival. Photo by Sakiko.

Karoke singing 'Stand by me at 'Ohanami' Urada Spring festival. Photo by Sakiko.

New buds.Photo by Heidi Axelsen.

New buds.Photo by Heidi Axelsen.

The trace of winter. Photo by Heidi Axelsen.

The trace of winter. Photo by Heidi Axelsen.

Baby fern. Photo by Heidi Axelsen.

Baby fern. Photo by Heidi Axelsen.

The trace of winter. Photo by Heidi Axelsen.

The trace of winter. Photo by Heidi Axelsen.

The trace of winter. Photo by Heidi Axelsen.

The trace of winter. Photo by Heidi Axelsen.

Bear skin drying in the sun. Photo by Heidi Axelsen.

Bear skin drying in the sun. Photo by Heidi Axelsen.

Rice seedlings. Photo by Heidi Axelsen.

Rice seedlings. Photo by Heidi Axelsen.

Nathan in the window of Australia House. Photo by Heidi Axelsen.

Nathan in the window of Australia House. Photo by Heidi Axelsen.