By Tama Copithorne
Love, Hope and New Life is a three-day arts and music event at the Unitarian Church marking the 7th anniversary of a great natural catastrophe and human tragedy of March 11, 2011 in Eastern Honshu in Japan (The Fukushima area).
Offering these events all started with the exhibition of our Vancouver based artist, Judy Villett’s exhibition, “Colours of Canada” in late December, 2017. I rushed to see Judy’s textile art exhibition in late December last year, a few days before the exhibition was to be closed. A fine example of Canadian social art!
I called my good Taiwanese Canadian friends who are interested in music and art to see if they would like to go with me to see Judy’s exhibition. They knew nothing about it but they were delighted to join me at the exhibition at Place des Arts in Coquitlam. We all went together to see the exhibition the next day.
At the exhibition, my Taiwanese Canadian friends told me just by chance that their friends in Artistic Studio LaLaLa (Tokyo), a Japanese social art organization approached them to help introduce their work in Canada, Vancouver in this case. The LaLaLa has already visited many countries in the world to promote peace following the tsunami and the nuclear disaster in 2011. Having been often involved in international cultural projects, I immediately suggested that we should all help bring this important art and music public event to Vancouver, to which my good Taiwanese Canadian friends and Judy said “Yes, let’s!” The timing presented us a challenge, as the LaLaLa with its principle individuals, music and art producer, Eriko Shiomi, and a well known clarinetist and music educator, Keiichi Hashizume, were already planning to come to Vancouver this March. We felt this is a significant starting relationship with them for Vancouver, so we started working on its presentation in our city on March 7, 8, and 9.
Personally speaking, I feel privileged to have good Taiwanese friends in our community who are interested in Japan. Japan and Taiwan has most of the time had a mutually helping and enriching history unlike Japan’s negative history with other Asian countries. Taiwan quickly came to assist Japan’s recovery from the great earthquake/tsunami catastrophe of 7 years ago. Taiwan raised over twenty billion Yen (nearly $250 million) for Japan’s recovery that time. Japan has also come to rescue Taiwan quickly whenever disasters hit the country. There is a mutual appreciation of each other.
Connections with Japan
By Judy Villett
The terrible earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan in 2011 felt close to me in several ways. I have visited Japan and have great respect for the visual arts and crafts there, forming friendships with textile artists there. As well, a close family friend was teaching school in a town near Fukushima in 2011. He survived, moving inland with his fiancé’s family. He kept us informed during and after the tsunami. Finally, one of my sons lived and worked in Japan for several years. We followed the whole event with horror and helplessness from Canada, and are still very concerned with the nuclear plant and the fact that radiation from it has caused Japanese friends to leave Tokyo and avoid the whole area. There are unknown consequences still affecting the ocean.
I was elated with the opportunity that arose via Tama Copithorne, a friend from the UCV Book Group, and her friend, Cecilia Cheuh. Through their musical/choir connections, we are able to help present a workshop using some of the rescued kimono fabrics…..a chance for me to take part, even this long after the event.
Helping Eriko Shiomi from Tokyo with her workshop gives me a chance to handle the precious relics and help create something meaningful and symbolic with them. There will be a direct connection as the work goes back to Japan.
I look forward to learning more about the catastrophe and Erico’s use of larger pieces of fabric to make original garments to sell as a fundraiser to replace musical instruments for children.
I will donate my time and some of my own fabrics as well as iron-on/fusible webbing for those people who don’t sew to help them make simple fabric collages.
I am looking forward to the speakers and world-class music. I have already learned about the strong connection between Taiwan and Japan from Tama and Cecilia, and feel privileged to be part of the world community supporting the survivors.