Sunday, 29 January 2023

Textile Details

'Earthquake', by Irene MacWilliam. (Photo: Irene MacWilliam)
'Earthquake', by Irene MacWilliam. (Photo: Irene MacWilliam)


Title of Textile:Earthquake
Maker: Irene MacWilliam
Country of Origin: Northern Ireland
Year Produced: 2012
Size (cm): 3 panels, each measuring 84cm(w) x 32 cms(l)
Materials: Cottons, fabric painting, digital printing, sun printing, applique and free machine work.
Type of Textile: Wall hanging

On 11 March, 2011, an earthquake of magnitude 9.0, the strongest ever recorded in Japan, struck Japan off the Pacific coast of Tōhoku. It triggered a massive tsunami that devastated many coastal areas of Japan, killing almost 20,000 people. The Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant no. 1, unable to withstand the tsunami, experienced a nuclear reactor meltdown and the release of radioactive materials, making it the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl, 25 years earlier.

Thousands of miles away, in Northern Ireland, Irene MacWilliam, absorbing the media images and reports of this horrific disaster, “felt compelled to make a piece of work about it.” She explains: “I made it in three panels to depict the three phases of this disaster, the earthquake, the tsunami and the ongoing concern over the release of radioactivity from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.” The text in each panel is taken from newspaper and TV reports, whilst the imagery “came from my mind except for the toddler being tested for radioactivity as I saw … this in a newspaper.”

Six years on, many are still living in the shadow of the disaster with numerous farmers forced to give up their land, due to radioactive contamination. According to the report by the Fukushima prefecture, published in March 2017, almost 80,000 people from the prefecture have yet to return to their homes, to slowly begin the process of rebuilding their lives, livelihoods and communities.

For Tomoko Sakai, associate professor at Tohoku Gakuin University and commissioner of the 2017 exhibition “Stitching Memoryscape” in three locations in Japan, including Earthquake is significant as: “[it] is directly related to the experience of people who live in the area [and is a gateway] for local visitors to enter the world of quilts and arpilleras.”

Owner: Conflict Textiles collection. Donation from Irene MacWilliam
Location: Roberta Bacic, Northern Ireland
Original / Replica: Original
Photographer: Irene MacWilliam

Textile exhibited at: Stitching Memoryscape 「記憶風景を縫う」, 30/05/2017 - 12/06/2017
Stitching Memoryscape 「記憶風景を縫う」, 29/08/2017 - 3/09/2017

Textile Detail Image(s)

  'Earthquake'(d1), by Irene MacWilliam. (Photo: Irene MacWilliam)  'Earthquake'(d2), by Irene MacWilliam. (Photo: Irene MacWilliam)  'Earthquake'(d3), by Irene MacWilliam. (Photo: Irene MacWilliam)