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Seven Samurai


Live performances / short films / souvenir collectable product / drawing workshop

In the Summer of 2006 Adam Sutherland (Grizedale Arts' director) invited us to join the other 'Samurai artists' for a month long residency, based in the remote village of Toge in rural north-west Japan. We spent three weeks in the village and one week in Tokyo. The project was inspired by the famous Kurosawa film of the same title, and we were given the brief of 'being useful' to Toge village in some way, a position somewhat in opposition to the context of the international art Triennale that we were part of. In many ways Toge can be seen as similar to Grizedale - a remote rural community where the village elders are concerned about the demise of farming and how to keep the community alive in the future. Generally the Triennale and its visitors seemed to raise little hope for the future of the area and through our Samurai activity we're trying to find a longer term project that might extend beyond our (hugely enjoyable) time in the village.

Whilst in Toge and living (in extremely close proximity!) with the other Samurai we worked on several live and joint projects: We performed a dance routine dressed as hybrid Tudors / Geishas and also sang backing with Juneau Projects and with the other 'samurai' at various venues in Japan. All of us worked on rice label designs & production for Toge village 'single estate' independent rice production, and together we created the 7 Samurai performance for Nobutai (Snow Centre) and the opening party of Echigo-Tsumari Triennale & Ikebukero Festival in Tokyo. We opened up our house and kitchen to the village with a strange group 'exhibition', and during the last week (when Karen and I stayed on alone in Toge) we more or less ran a permanent open house and communal 'fusion cooking' facility.

Our more personal projects started with the short film A Cottage in the Country and our strange 'Shields of Toge' drawing session with the ladies of the village. Inspired by these and generally our time in Japan we have now developing two further projects: `Little Deluxe Living' (a short film) and 'Titchy/Kitschy' (two souvenir products). You can read more about this work and see lots of images from the project by following the links on the right.

Work from our time in Japan showed at Leeds City Art Gallery as part of our winning exhibition for the 2008 Northern Art Prize.

To visit Grizedale Arts click here
To see the Echigo-Tsumari Triennale site go here

Us with the ladies of Toge
Photo: Tim Olden