Matsushima: no visitor island – Online Publication

A geometric net is a pattern created when a three-dimensional object is laid out flat. Eleven different patterns can be created when a cube is laid out.

On Matsushima Island’s beach I began the first eleven days of my 2019 residency at dawn with a gesture of unfolding and imprinting.  My ‘cube’ was a 1:40 scale model of the timber structure beneath the plaster walls in the spare room of our Melbourne house.  At this scale I could fit the room into my pocket…

But this is not the start of the story.  My island residency came about in a most unexpected way.

During the 2019 Art Anywhere Symposium at Buxton Contemporary, Melbourne, artist Ryota Sato extended an invitation to the audience.  Everyone present was invited to contribute to the island’s Matsushima Bunko Museum.  Located on a small inhabited island in Japan’s Setouchi Sea, where the population is just two, the museum’s goal was unknown and it had little to offer; no formal exhibitions, no art collections, no curators and no director…

“…we have had to surrender…to give up wanting anything. No-one comes to the island,

the museum has no visitors…still, we need to cut the grass…” Ryota Sato


This statement resonated deeply with me and became reason enough to accept the invitation.  As a visitor, however, I knew to arrive with a contribution. My mother had impressed visiting etiquette upon me from an early age  – never arrive empty handed she’d say. Therefore, along with my willingness to collaborate on tasks of island maintenance, I brought the pocket-room to lay out and press into the sand each morning.

Throughout my stay I paired with Sagami-san, one of the island’s two remaining elderly residents, who’d undertake much of the local maintenance.  Beginning as my host and collaborator, she became my companion and teacher…


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