Born in 1978 in Chiba Prefecture, Yasuaki Igarashi graduated from Tokyo University of the Arts Graduate School with a Master’s Degree in 2005. With the help and cooperation of other people, he makes changes to the scenery in many places by adopting and connecting its culture and beauty to the land of that certain place.
So far his projects include sailing to Micronesia from Japan by yacht in 2005 (a distance of about 4000km), and voyaging about 970km along the Sea of Japan coast in 2012. These experiences formed the basis of Igarashi’s “Perspectives from the Sea.” “Kusukaki,” an art project started in 2010, in a forest of camphor in Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine (Fukuoka Prefecture) & aims to follow a thousand years of time passage. And“Sora-ami” catches sky, fishing, and braided land sceneries along with fishermen (displayed at Setouchi Triennale 2013 – 2016).
Shared Lines: Kaikōura 2019
Having previously installed his works for Shared Lines: Wellington (2017), SLC invited Yasuaki Igarashi to Kaikōura for a month-long residency coinciding with the SL:K festival. The aim of Igarashi's residency was to work with the community to create a Kaikōura specific 'Sora Ami' public installation. During this month Igarashi taught locals the traditional Japanese technique for making fishing nets, expanding his creative practice that explores connection and understanding beyond language. Having worked with displaced Japanese communities, non-verbal children in South America and multiple nationalities in Antarctica, Igarashi was well versed in turning seemingly disparate individuals into creative collaborators – art being the shared language.
Sora-Ami (Knitting the Sky) originated in 2011 with a voyage made by the artist Yasuaki Igarashi after the Eastern Japanese Earthquake. During this journey Igarashi found himself on Miyakejima, a volcanic island in the Pacific - south of Tokyo that erupts about once every 20 years. Here he met a local fisherman who taught him how to knit fishing nets. Since the encounter in June 2011, Yasuaki has brought people together “to knit” in nine different locations throughout Japan. These locations include the temporary housing facilities in disaster-stricken areas like Kamaishi City of Iwate Prefecture and the Urato Islands of Shiogama City in Prefecture Miyagi, to Asakura Jinja in Tokyo – the Shinto Shrine whose shrine crest is a net.
The first Sora Ami was installed across a foot-bridge overlooking the Northern end of the town. This existing net was created with Japanese fishermen from various islands off the coast of the mainland. A second Sora Ami was installed in Christchurch at The Arts Centre, it acted as both a physical and symbolic statement of unity between two places which share fault lines, history and experience. A few days afterwards, at the Southern wharf end, near the uplifted seabed, the freshly knitted Kaikōura Sora Ami was raised, connecting the vista of mountains, coastline and sea. The net was gently bellied by wind – moving like a collective breath in a shared environment.
Shared Lines: Wellington 2017
“Knitting nets is universal. If one can knit a net, one can cross the ocean and connect with people. Knitting nets is part of human wisdom. If one can knit a net, one can transcend time and connect with people of the past and future.” – Yasusaki Igarashi
The origin of Sora-Ami (Knitting the Sky) is a voyage made by the artist after the Eastern Japanese Earthquake and an encounter with a fisherman living on Miyakejima – a volcanic island in the Pacific south of Tokyo that erupts about once every 20 years. Here the artist learned how to knit fishing nets. Since the encounter in June 2011, Yasuaki has brought people together “to knit” in nine different locations throughout Japan, from the temporary housing facilities in disaster-stricken areas like Kamaishi City of Iwate Prefecture and the Urato Islands of Shiogama City in Prefecture Miyagi to Asakura Jinja in Tokyo – the Shinto Shrine whose shrine crest is a net.
The installation of the work at the Wellington Waterfront Lagoon acknowledges the importance of this area to mana whenua Maori, as a place of fishing and connection. The official launch of Sora-Ami (Knitting the Sky) is 10am Wednesday 18 October outside Te Wharewaka o Poneke. The installation will be up for one week only.
The Wellington installation of Sora-Ami (Knitting the Sky) is hoped to be the first of three installations as the nets journey to the South Island to be displayed in Christchurch and Kaikoura in a gesture that connects people from these different islands and helps to share experience and ideas.