07.11.2017 / ArtsPeople, Sydney & Tokyo
Our Sydney Festival Debut:
Two New Projects for Children and Families!
Our new ArtsPeople production Jurassic Plastic and collaborative project with the Sydney Opera House Join the Dots will both be presented in the Sydney Festival in January 2018. We’re excited to be part of this major Australian event that we’ve grown up with and enjoyed for so many years as audience members. The Sydney Festival has shaped much of our experience of both Australian and major international art, music, theatre and dance.
Jurassic Plastic is ArtsPeople’s new production for children and families that acts as an art-antidote to the mass-consumerism and waste that plagues contemporary society. Australia is a massive consumer of plastic, in particular cheaply made children’s plastic toys. One report claimed we are a ‘world leader’ with the ‘average’ Australian child getting over $400 worth of plastic toys a year.
Since experiencing Hiroshi Fuji’s work at the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art Kanazawa more than two years ago, we dreamt of creating a collaborative project for Australian children and families, based on his work. Sydney Festival’s Artistic Director Wesley Enoch shared our enthusiasm and instantly saw it’s potential for creating a meaningful contemporary art experience for Festival audiences.
With a typically Japanese respect for all things – animate and inanimate alike – Fuji transforms discarded toys into giant ‘Toysaurus’ dinosaurs and sprawling landscapes. For us, these works do exactly what we want art to do. The bold, colourful, immersive works hit you first with a beautiful visual feast – bright, sprawling, intriguing – and then it starts to sink in. Where did this all come from? It’s all too much. Too much stuff. Too much plastic. Too much cheap crap. But then … oh I remember these – I used to have one when I was a kid! Look at these ones – so cool, so cute, so Japanese.
Joy, wonder, nostalgia, nausea, guilt. Through Fuji’s work, at once beautiful and utterly sobering, we are hit with the reality of our disposable culture at point blank range.
But rather than a didactic exercise in self-flagellation and guilt tripping, we’ve created Jurassic Plastic as an immersive, participatory contemporary art project. One that invites us into the creative process, where audiences take part in the recycling and reinvention of discarded objects. Visitors are invited to transform discarded plastic toys into new creations through an engaging and inspiring art experience.
We hope that Jurassic Plastic will unlock the creative potential and capacity for change in our community, as a space where complex issues sit alongside simple joys. This is the power of art.
Meanwhile, across the other side of Sydney’s CBD, our collaborative project with the Sydney Opera House, Join the Dots, takes artistic exchange to a whole new level.
More than two years ago, we met Frank Newman from the Sydney Opera House’s Creative Learning team, and learned about their Creative Play projects. In particular we loved the sound of The Drawing Wall, where illustrators, performers and children made art together on the walls of the Sydney Opera House through projected digital drawing. We instantly said “if you do it again, we’ve got the perfect Japanese artist for you – Nobumasa Takahashi”. He’s a quick-drawing, high-energy artist who combines traditional Japanese mythology with contemporary cityscapes and quirky characters.
At this point the conversation got really interesting – what if we made it even more ambitious? What if we linked Australia and Japan digitally too? We could have Nobumasa making art with kids here in Sydney, an Australian artist with local kids in Japan, and link them up via the internet! (How hard can it be?!)
Within the next hour we’d cooked the project up, fallen totally in love with it, and decided it was definitely doable. Convince Nobumasa to draw digitally for the first time? Easy. Find a presenting partner in Japan willing to come on this crazy ride? Yes we can! Find sponsors, funding bodies, partners and artist collaborators who love this as much as we do? Done! Work out how to deliver a (seemingly straightforward…) technical solution to achieve a live video link-up and real-time digital drawing across two countries? You bet.
Rehearsals for Join the Dots start in Ota, Japan next month … we’ll keep you posted.
Jurassic Plastic runs 6 – 28 January 2018 (Tuesday to Sunday) at Lower Town Hall, Sydney.
Join the Dots runs 13 – 19 January 2018 at the Sydney Opera House.
Jurassic Plastic is an ArtsPeople production presented by Sydney Festival and supported by St Vincent De Paul and the City Of Sydney.
Join the Dots is produced by Sydney Opera House Creative Play Program, ArtsPeople, Art Museum and Library, Ota, and Spiral / Wacoal Art Centre. Supported by the Australian Government through the Australia-Japan Foundation of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Japan Foundation, Sydney.
Words: Kathryn Hunyor
Image courtesy of 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa from Hiroshi Fuji, Happy Paradies, 2015.
Photographer: Keizo Kioku