This was one of the five drawings I created in Japan. I call the ladder and the mammoth “a stroke of genius.”
I was drawing outdoor on Shodoshima (one of the participating five islands of the first Triennial Setouchi Art Festival, Japan) when a gust of wind playfully whirled around me. The wind flipped the paper, and I made an accidental curved line in the empty space beneath the lower right tree branch of the drawing. An unwanted black mark on the pristine white paper!
I thought, “Oh xxxx!” then packed up my drawing materials and called it a day. I didn’t quite know how to solve the problem.
Two days after, an experience came upon me to yielded an effortless solution. I am even glad that the wind made the mark on the paper!
Sometimes inspiration lurks in the most unexpected corner:
The straw mammoth was one of the three site-specific straw art set up by the Musashino Art University. The other two were a whale and a straw hut on a little hill, from which you can enjoy a panoramic view of the two mammals. Unfortunately I liked the mammoth a bit too much, and only took (dozens of) photos of this beast…
The festival opened in July, yet the straw art wasn’t set up until the end of September. The reason was that the art was made with rice straw donated by local farmers after the harvest. The island Shodoshima was filled with rice field (here I tasted the most heavenly onigiris—Japanese rice balls.)
Before the mammoth was erected, the House of Shodoshima by Wang Wen-Chih was the most popular artwork on Shodoshima. After the mammoth was up, it has been a tug of war ever since. (To read more about my thoughts on the House of Shodoshima.)
The most interesting story about the mammoth piece was…
In late October, one month after the mammoth had been up, a typhoon swept by the Seto Inner Sea region. I was looking forward so much to going to the mammoth the following morning to photograph the giant one last time in the sun before I left the island.
When I arrived, the giant was standing no more! The typhoon had struck the mammoth down during the feverish dark evening!
At 9am, I could see some farmers putting reinforcement on the whale’s tail too! Farmers who abandoned their farming routine to protect the artwork in their backyard, because they cared! No one paid them to do it. Well! Heck! No one had even told them to.
There, I came back to my drawing, and was anxious to draw a ladder from the tree (an extension of the unexpected mark.) There, beneath the ladder gracefully slept the fallen mammoth, contemplating the relationship between the elements and the art…
Limited Edition Art Prints of this drawing are now available for online pre-order!
Enjoy 20% off art prints and gift certificates until the end of 2010, and global free shipping until 31 Jan 2011! (Find 20% discount code on fb fanpage!)
The original drawing is also still available. Please enquiry for acquisition.