Tsuyu Bridwell
Art Installation

I made a part of a large installation work as requested by an artist Tsuyu Bridwell in France. Although it was a first order from abroad, and a first piece of artwork created by applying the chochin making technique, the finished work has been received with much appreciation. It is still being exhibited in the shopping mall with a long tradition in Southern France.
※ delivered in 2021

Expressing the artistic vision with the technique of chochin lantern making

A piece of enormous artwork with a height of 15m and a width of 7m “La danse des cocoons (the dance of the cocoons)” floats in the 23m tall atrium. The installation which is exhibited in the shopping mall Polygone Montpellier in Southern France expresses “cocoon” by applying the technique of chochin lantern making. I made 280 pieces of cocoon chochin lanterns to be applied to the energetic but comforting piece of artwork.

Tsuyu Bridwell chose the Japanese chochin lantern, because she wanted to place a piece of artwork founded on tradition in an extensive modern space surrounded by glass walls which makes the sky visible. Chochin lantern is very light and washi paper has a sense of translucence and is a sophisticated natural material. Another reason for choosing the chochin lantern was because it had a soothing effect even among the materials such as concrete, glasses and steels.

However, since chochin lantern as a piece of artwork required delicate expression, some artisan rejected the offer “as going against the conventional chochin lantern making” or simply “found it too difficult to work with unfamiliar materials”. Eventually the artist found chochin lantern artisan Mariya Kojima on the internet and contacted her directly.

Although I was surprised by the fact that it was not only an offer on a short notice from France, but also a request for a piece of artwork, I accepted the offer as I believed in the motto of taking on any challenges that came in my way. Despite being distant in France and Japan, we managed to share our sensitivity to give a shape to the desired expression. We also had an advantage of sharing a similar sensibility as a fellow female artist and artisan.

I expected her to be not so well acquainted with chochin lantern making as a foreigner. So I made an extra effort to explain myself thoroughly. In succeeding the tradition, it is important “not to change things”, but it is as important to discover new potentials. By accepting any offer to the extent possible and not giving up before trying, I can expand the potential of chochin lantern.

Despite the fact that it was a first order from abroad and a first time dealing with the big project, I managed to deliver 280 pieces of chochin lantern.
Chochin lantern as a piece of artwork made with Echizen Washi will be exhibited for another few years.


Key points of production

A framework with thin strips of bamboo widely spaced out
The wooden model I adopted needed much more spaces in between each framework made of bamboo strips, which made it difficult to paste the washi paper. I repasted the paper many times, and sent some samples to France for a confirmation to make subtle adjustments if necessary.
Sharing sensitivity for a form of artistic expression
According to Tsuyu “Mariya understood what I wanted to express better than any other chochin lantern studio. Most chochin lantern artisan are men, so it probably helped a lot that we could communicate better as fellow women.” Other than suggesting some techniques for chochin lantern making, we could also share our sensitivity for a form of artistic expression to create a better work.
Remote meetings
Tsuyu’s visit to Japan has been canceled due to the Covid 19, so we had to give up on an in-person meeting. Instead we made video calls, exchanged messages, and held online meetings to proceed with the production.


La danse des cocons

作者:Tsuyu Bridwell
展示場所:ポリゴ-ヌ(Polygone Montpellier) -モンペリエ市(Montpellier)-フランス

※南仏の老舗ショッピングセンター、ポリゴ-ヌ(Polygone Montpellier)がリニューアルし、高さ23mのアトリウムに同インスタレーションが展示されています。


Tsuyu Bridwell

Ancestral rituals and collective memory
Tsuyu Bridwell draws her inspiration from beliefs and ancestral rituals, expressing the fragility and the force of life. She questions the necessity of rituals and the human manifestations of superstitions with certain amusement.
Working across various media, she uses traditional crafts from Japan, Korea and France to create installations and sculptural objects that confront questions of collective memory and representation of Nature.
The production which demand hours of labour by the multitude and repetition of its objects and the esthetic exigence of her works, contribute to bring an emotion that the artist develop to direct her intention. Just like the Nature, vector of ideas, she presents intricate natural subjects to create a contemporary vision of phantasmagoria: The Danse of the Cocoons, Sentôchô (thousands butterflies suspension), school of jellyfish, coppeweb, mineral sculptures…
Born in Tokyo to a Korean father and Japanese mother, Tsuyu studied dance and music at the Centre de danse international Rosella Hightower in Cannes, France. She went on to study drama and theater at the Conservatoire National Supérieur d'art dramatique de Paris, working some years as an actor. Her career in the performing arts has enriched her work as a visual artist, facilitating an organic flow of expression between her pieces and their audience.
Her monumental and spectacular installations provoke a meditative visual experience and initiate the viewer to a magnified world of wonders of the Nature revealing a delicate equilibrium of the ecosystem, between force, fragility, beliefs and human desirs.


Photo by Delphine Chanet