Festivals Australia and the Australia Japan Foundation will provide funding for Japanese artist Akira Moriya to come to York to create giant straw sculptures of endangered Australian fauna.
The straw sculptures will be the major event of The York Festival 2018 run by York Arts and Events, Inc.
Festival Director, Jenny Garroun, who recently visited Japan said the Wara Art sculptures were spectacular.
This was where she and her husband inspected giant Wara Art sculptures and negotiated a Memorandum of Understanding for the art exchange with Wara Art Japan.
“This is so exciting,” said Mrs Garroun.
“It’s taken months of planning and it will be the first time Wara Art has come to a Western country.”
Ms Garroun was introduced to the concept of Wara Art late last year and saw the connection with The York Festival’s own sculpture competition.
The sculptures are being designed by the founder of Wara Art, Professor Shingo Miyajima of the Department of Science and Design at the Musashino University.
They will be up to four metres high and will be constructed in three locations around the York town centre.
Wara Art or rice straw art, started in Japan because rice straw, which had traditionally been used for making tatami mats and other objects, had increasingly been replaced by manmade materials, leaving farmers with a problem: what do you do with the mass of rice straw after the annual harvest has finished?
The farming community in Niigata prefecture approached Professor Miyajima to find a creative solution and he came up with the idea that has since spawned Wara Art festivals across Japan.
“We don’t have rice straw in WA, so our sculptures will be created using wheat straw sourced from one of the few producers who still harvest in stooks,” Ms Garroun said.
“This producer just happens to be right here in York”.
Construction of the sculptures will start when the Japanese artist, Akira Moriya arrives in York in late August.
One sculpture is expected to be complete in time for the opening of the Festival on Saturday 8 September and the others will be completed while the festival is underway.
“Japan is the Wheatbelt’s most important trading partner, as Japan imports more than half of its noodle wheat from the Wheatbelt,” Ms Garroun said.
“The Wara Art project provides an opportunity to strengthen that relationship.”
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