New exhibition aims to show “peace” works

By August 4, 2011Creative Industries, Newsroom

The hopes and dreams of the people of Northern Ireland will form part of an art installation in Belfast during August Craft Month.

The public is being encouraged to make 1,000 origami cranes and write their wishes for the future on their bird at a unique exhibition at the Arts and Disability Forum Gallery on Royal Avenue.

The project is being led by Irish artist Stacia Blake who has dedicated her life to creating artworks to commemorate all the people who died after the Hiroshima (Aug 6) and Nagasaki (Aug 9) bombs – an estimated 246,000 people. In her paintings, a circle represents each person who died and so far she has completed works with 20,000 circles.

The installation, Piece Work, combines Stacia’s paintings with the collaboratively produced origami cranes, a symbol of longevity and peace.

The exhibition opened tonight (August 4) and runs until August 23. The workshops start on the week beginning August 15.

“The installation will grow as Stacia engages with local people to reflect on conflict and peace, and as they each make just one item – a paper bird,” explained Chris Ledger, Chief Executive Officer of the Arts and Disability Forum.

Each person who makes a crane will have the option of writing or drawing something related to their hopes or their individual commitment toward peace. ADF will be approaching the two main communities affected by the years of conflict as well as those from other groups including ethnic minorities, Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual groups, travellers, homeless people and disabled people.

“The project, which will continue into September until World Peace day, brings disparate people together to collaborate in an unthreatening and enjoyable project that has at its heart a desire for peace,” she added.

The idea for making the cranes sprang from Stacia’s first visit to Japan and subsequent project to create an artwork for the people who were killed during or in the aftermath of the bombings in Japan.

“I visited Japan in 2008 and was just so moved by what I saw at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I feel passionately about the nuclear threat and this work creates a calm and peaceful environment for people to come in and contemplate the meaning of what was done and what the future holds,” Stacia said.

The origami cranes were chosen because they are linked to the story of Japanese girl Sadako’s quest to create a thousand paper cranes in the hope that she would recover from radiation experienced during the blast when she was two. Sadako died before she reached her goal but her classmates finished the rest after her death from Leukaemia. There is now a tradition of sending paper cranes to the explosion sites to coincide with anniversary dates.

Stacia has always been artistic and says she enjoyed creating things and making up plays as a child. She was a dancer with the cult band Hawkwind, fronted by Motorhead’s Lemmy – in the 70s and performed with the band around the world and even appeared at Queen’s University in 1973. They were the first band to have played a live gig in Belfast for more than a year because of the Troubles and during the visit Stacia was “kidnapped” as part of Rag Week.

“I’m really looking forward to being in Belfast and Northern Ireland has changed so much since I last was here. It will be great to have the opportunity to meet and work with local people,” she said.

She will be holding workshops open to groups and the public during August Craft Month, which is an annual celebration of craft in Northern Ireland. The theme this year is “Craft Chat”, which aims is to get people thinking about the quality and relevance of craft through discussion, storytelling, poetry and online blogging as well as directly through the objects themselves.

Joe Kelly, Director of Craft NI, explained: “2011 is the Year of Craft and we want to start a conversation about craft and the different ways in which designer-makers create beautiful and unique pieces of art. This project has the essence of what craft month is all about.”

For more information about the events taking place during August Craft Month visit