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During 2009 we had the opportunity to spend time in the Japanese landscape as guests of the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial. Echigo was an important experience with numerous and lasting outcomes. It brought into focus questions many contemporary artists are struggling with in relation to production and reception of artworks, it reinforced an idea of heterological engagement in praxis. One of the most important aspects of Echigo-Tsumari Triennial was the engagement with the surrounding rural communities and the real life issues brought about by great social, economic and not least environmental changes, these are universal question across the world, agricultural communities are loosing the youth to the big cities and employment, agriculture is being taken over by new industrial methods of cultivation, difficult and less productive (read economic) land areas will have to be abandoned and  returned to nature but is this possible? Satoyama suggests not, the landscape having been carved and shaped, the rivers manipulated and harnessed for a couple of centuries it is impossible to let go now the results would be catastrophic, mountains will slide into the rivers the remains of the soil will be colonised by the most vigorous plants ferns, bamboo, morning glory and numerous other invasive plants we observed during our stay, these would form impenetrable barriers to access large areas of land. This situation would inevitably bring the demise of many villages and the loss of significant aspects of Japanese culture. Our interest is not specifically the Japanese countryside but the highly cultivated landscapes in both western and eastern traditions that have been manipulated into an ideal either for aesthetics or for agricultural production.

For this exhibition the fusing of objects and photographic images as installed at Place Gallery brings together the idea of ‘Satoyama’, an exploration of the relationship between humans and nature, the microcosm of the bonsai underlines human intervention and the shaping of the countryside.