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In Japan, the city of Shirone hosts a week-long Giant Kite Festival when teams engage in a tug of war to down the opposing teams’ kites. These huge handmade kites are made from strong Japanese ‘washi’ paper and whilst most end up in the river, discarded fragments which litter the towpath after the kite battle form the basis of this series of work.

It is the paper which holds memories of time and place and these fragments, which remained boxed up until recently, are as bright as they were 40 years ago. With time the colours may fade but transience is part of the meaning and beauty of the powerful kites of Shirone.

‘Shirone kite fragments’ 

Strong Japanese ‘washi’ paper salvaged after the Shirone kite festival becomes a surface to manipulate and stitch. Metal discs, picked up for their interesting shapes in brocantes and flea markets are incorporated as casts and paper-cuts onto discarded kite fragments. The fluid calligraphic strokes of the kite designs contrast with the hard edges of discarded household pieces. Japanese ‘washi’ paper of this sort is made from the inner bark of the mulberry tree, and the long fibres can withstand being cut, rolled and spun into thread from a single sheet of paper. Stitching with handmade paper thread, kami-ito, highlights the detail and repetition of ordinary objects. Ellie is working with these fragments, piecing and stitching them together to create new compositions which incorporate elements of the original sumi ink brushbrokes, and the tears and water damage from the kite fight.

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