Ogijima Again!2011.03.28 by Cathy Hirano
I was expecting the island to be back to its pre-art festival state ? beautiful, of course, but not crowded. To my surprise, the boat was packed and extra ferries were scheduled.
March, it turns out, is narcissus season and as the tip of the island is planted with thousands of them, Ogijima hosts a very popular hiking event at this time. It was actually heartening to see that the island has a good fan following among local Kagawans, art or no art. There were booths selling local produce and a crowd of people enjoying delicious local cuisine outdoors in the lovely sunshine.
We opted to avoid the flow of people to the narcissus fields and turned into the village, following our original plan to visit the remaining art sites. This turned out to be a wise choice as we had them almost entirely to ourselves!!
To my delight, I found that the outdoor Wallalley works are weathering well and fusing with their surroundings.
At Kawashima and Dream Friends, the number of Memory Drops, particularly those made by visitors, had greatly increased so that it felt as if we were entering a multicolored galaxy.
A galaxy inhabited by beetles perhaps.
At SEA VINE, a ceramic wave of flowers that pours through a window facing the sea, I learned that each porcelain piece is painted with a detailed scene from the Seto Inland Sea.
What painstaking work!
I had never noticed this on any other visit. It helped that the volunteers had time for a leisurely chat. Not only did we find out interesting bits of information like this but we also got to share our love for art and the islands. This love of art seems to be catching, as we discovered little bits of art all around the town.
In addition to the lacquer project, Maison de Urushi, which was just as beautiful as I remembered, we dropped by Onba Factory to visit with our friend, Yoshifumi Oshima.
Onba Factory has produced about 60 artful strollers to date and they are being used by local people all over the village now. We saw two on the ferry as well, not to mention this one at Dream Friends that blends right in to the art installation.
Onba Factory for me best captures the spirit and purpose of the Art Festival. Oshima is committed for the long term and he is working with the local people to find ways to revitalize the island by bringing in new and younger blood. Without children, he says, the island has no future; without new blood, it will be an island of cats within ten years. The spark lit by the art festival, however, is still burning. There are signs that the islanders are taking more initiative. In January, they held a very successful onba market in cooperation with the Oshimas. Villagers filled 10 onba with local products and lined them up as shops in Onba Factory. The goods were sold out within two hours.
Having caught up with the art festival, Kento and I rounded out our visit by hiking down to the lighthouse and the narcissus field. It takes only 20 to 30 minutes one way and the views are fabulous. There is a mountain trail as well, which takes longer. Although we did not take it, we met many along the way who had and although they looked tired, they also looked very happy.
Kento and I have made a date to go for a picnic in April or May, or maybe both. This island is very therapeutic and we certainly need that right now.
ART SETOUCHI has planned a series of events for spring on different islands. The series was launched with Music Parade, an open air concert of musicians and street performers, at Sunport Takamatsu on March 27. Planned some time ago, Music Parade was transformed into a charity event after the earthquake/tsunami occurred. The opening of a new work by video artist Pipilotti Rist on Teshima is scheduled for April 9. Various other events are planned on weekends and national holidays until May 8.
House of Shodoshima