Updated: Sep 20
YM: White Conduit Projects aims to promote closer links between the UK and Japan. Fine Art infused with Japanese tradition is key to our programme and we welcome contributions to the furthering of Anglo-Japanese cultural relations.
With the travel restrictions of the past year, owing to the pandemic, many of us have been unable to fulfil our desire to venture across the oceans. In July 2021, White Conduit Projects launched Pacific Breeze: II . We sent a fan to 100 artists and designers from different nationalities based in many parts of the globe. The artists come from diverse backgrounds, practices, and generations. The artwork created for this exhibition reflects the multiplicity of interests and approaches to the folding fan. Some of the fans are purely aesthetic, and others contain messages such as a social or political comment. an exhibition featuring fans created by 100 artists, first presented at the gallery, then online for auction with The Auction Collective, fundraising for Blue Marine Foundation.
We've asked a selection of artists from the exhibition to discuss their fans, for The Art Five:
Bella Easton: The title references the pot of gold that occurs at the end of a rainbow, a metaphor for hope and happiness. I chose to construct a fan around a complete circle in bamboo and Japanese handmade paper. The hand cut, repeated shapes and pencil line drawing combine with the watercolour spectrum, suggesting a spinning rainbow, with the (s)pot of gold at its centre (24 carat gold leaf).
Reoccurring references of the rainbow have been used throughout history, culture and religion to define symbols of hope, in particularly the flood story, gay pride and more recent uses for signs of hope during Covid. It is a symbol that speaks to us all and is endemic to the contemporary times we live!
If I could take the fan anywhere in the world it would be Cherai Beach, the Northern side of Vypin Island in Kochi, Kerala, India. It is the hottest place I have ever been to and I would need the fan to keep cool. The place is vibrantly coloured with saree dress and the fan would be a complimentary accessory.
(S)Pot of Gold, 2021, Bamboo, Japanese paper, pencil, watercolour, 24 carat gold leaf, American walnut, 47 x 47 x 7cm.
Hiroaki Onuma: When I was wondering what to make for the fan, I remembered that there were three monkey figurines at home, based on Buddhist anecdotes. As I got inspired by them, I started to draw three faces. Then I wanted to improvise as much as possible at that time, and I happened to have a grapefruit net, so I traced it with spray paint and added a grit pattern on the fruit monster faces. I hope you enjoy the humorous atmosphere of the original fruit monsters.
If I could bring that fan (anywhere in the world), I would like to go to a beach in South Asia somewhere, for example, Bali. I want to relax with a coconut juice with the fan.
What shall I do today?', 2021, Bamboo, paper, acrylic paint, 35 x 21 x 1.3 cm
Jessica Voorsanger: The fan I made is inspired by the television show Star Trek (original series). Literally, I am a "Star Trek Fan", but it is more than that. I am also playing with colour and the visual trickery of what a fan can do by having different physical planes. This has enabled me to dissect the images and intersperse them over greater distances (also playing with colour and space). I am fascinated by collage and how one element can interact with another creating a completely different outcome from where they started.
If I could take my fan anywhere it would be into space (possibly just on an airplane).
Untitled (Start Trek Pacific Travel), 2021, Found imagery (magazine), collage, watercolour, 35 x 21 x 1.3 cm.
Yoko Terauchi: Forms aren’t created, they are produced by the material (nothing added nor reduced from the original fan).
Waves, 2021, Bamboo, paper, 32 x 16 x 3 cm.
Benjamin Deakin: I have something of an obsession with the Matterhorn. It’s one of the few mountains that can be called iconic. Not only that, but it is also distinctive enough to be replicated, there are replica Matterhorns in Disneyland, George Harrison’s garden in Henley on Thames, not to mention the innumerable ones on Toblerone packaging as well as featuring in countless other advertising campaigns. As Mt Fuji is the other famously replicated iconic mountain it seemed fitting for this show with the gallery’s strong ties to Japan. And what better way to cool oneself down than with the waft of a nice cool Alp?! It’s titled “Reviver”.
I have never seen the Matterhorn or Mount Fuji in person. The obvious answer (if I could take the fan anywhere in the world) is that I’d like to take the Matterhorn fan to Austria, wave it at the real thing. I’m sure there are innumerable fans with images of Mount Fuji in Japan. It would be nice to see mine alongside some of these too, with the real Mount Fuji in the background, like a Hokusai print.
Reviver, 2021, Bamboo, paper, oil paint, 35 x 21 x 1.3 cm
Liz Elton: My fan is called 'Hot House’. My practice takes inspiration from landscape and still-life painting to explore the potential in waste and the recycling of matter. I think a lot about the connection between food waste, soil health and the ability of the soil to store carbon. Much of my work is large fragile floating paintings made on compostable corn starch food waste recycling bags and coloured with vegetable dyes from kitchen waste.
During lockdown, restricted to home, I began growing vegetables in pots of home-made compost. I also started a series of prints of images of my kitchen waste on its way to the compost bin, referencing still-life painting and Instagram food selfies. I printed some of these images onto silk as part of a large work, and I used some of the offcuts to make this fan. A recent UN paper (UNEP Food Waste Index Report) states ‘Estimates suggest that 8-10% of global greenhouse gas emissions are associated with food that is not consumed’. If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions. It's a dire situation but also a source of hope as reducing food waste can make a significant impact.
If I could take my fan anywhere it would be to Glasgow in November for the UN Climate Change Conference Cop26.
Hothouse 1, 2021, Silk, bamboo, paper, 37 x 21 x 1.3 cm
Hannah Tilson: My painted fan is called Disguise. I started making my own paint at the end of 2020. It feels important for me to do this as it allows me to control the translucency and opacity of the medium, while keeping the intensity of colour. This allows me to work with the paper and leave parts of it blank, allowing the work to glow and breathe. As soon as I saw the fan, I wanted to paint a portrait on it.
If I could take my fan anywhere, I would take it to Japan. I have recently been looking at Japanese woodblocks and have been inspired by the folds and flowing patterns in the Kimonos. I have also been researching Japanese Noh masks. Japanese actors wear Noh masks to portray women/old men/any character they needed to. By holding my fan Disguise to your face, you are masking your own face and concealing yourself as the figure painted on it. Over the last year we have been covering our faces with masks and our eyes have been our only ways to express our emotions. This was something I was thinking about while painting the fan.
Disguise, 2021, Bamboo, paper, homemade paint, coloured pencil, 35 x 21 x 1.3 cm
Rebecca Byrne: I started my fan considering how to translate my work onto the 3D surface, thinking of the painting as an object. Recently, I have been making landscapes of compressed time; they feature plants and flowers that are extinct, endangered or thriving mixed in with things that never existed. They are impossible, fantastical landscapes.
Instead of taking my fan to a place in the world, I would like to travel in time, to when I was growing up spending weekends with my parents on their small, and rather experimental, organic farm just outside Chicago. I was in charge of bug removal. I would wiggle down the rows of plants removing the bugs and caterpillars by hand and place them in a bucket as I went. I’m pretty sure there are more efficient ways of saving veg, but my parents knew nothing about farming beyond their determination to work organically. I can’t say I loved my job at the time, I would rather read or draw, but I liked contributing.
The folds of the fan reminded me of the rows my dad tilled for our garden, so I started painting from memories of the things we grew. Using watercolour on translucent recyclable paper, I cut up the paintings and used the pieces to make a collage, planting my internal time travels across the pleats of the fan.
If I could use my fan to travel anywhere, I would be back in those rows with my bucket for a day again, working with my parents as they pursued their dreams.
Precious Bounty, 2021, Bamboo, paper, watercolour, Yupo paper, 42 x 32 x 1.4 cm
Thank you to Yuki Miyake of White Conduit Projects, and to the artists for participating in The Art Five, Issue 21.
Pacific Breeze II
The fans were exhibited from 28th of July - 29th of August at White Conduit Projects, and then sold online via Auction Collective. Each fan comes with its own stand created by the London based designer Michael Marriott specially for this exhibition. White Conduit Projects will donate a minimum of 10% of the proceeds from the sale to support Blue Marine Foundation.
Timed Auction - with The Auction Collective
Ends 26 September 7 pm
About Yuki Miyaki
Yuki Miyake Founded White Conduit Projects in Central London at 1 White Conduit Street N1 in November 2014, showcasing Japanese artists alongside British and international artists in a programme of innovative exhibitions. As interest in Japanese culture continues to grow, Miyake is keen to secure White Conduit Projects’ place as an important voice in these conversations. White Conduit Projects is a nurturing hub where practitioners, students, educators, and audiences can exchange and encounter new experiences to enhance cultural understanding.
Born Tottori, Japan, Miyake graduated with an MA in Communication Design 1993 at the Royal College of Art. Miyake has since worked on various design projects, an online gallery, and curating for various art exhibitions at White Conduit Projects, or outside the venue including a group show at ITV Southbank, Karen Knorr exhibition at Daitokuji-Obai-in Temple in Kyoto, and Shino Yanai performance at Portbou, Spain.
All images courtesy of The Artists and White Conduit Projects.