Utoh (Birds of Sorrow)

Title of work Utoh (Birds of Sorrow)
Date of work 2018 & 2019 (with film projection)
Medium Installation - Acrylic, clay, fishing line, found objects from Thames beaches (bone, ceramics, glass, feathers, leather, metal, plastic, rope)
Exhibited Venue Thames-side Studios Gallery (London), Tokyo Art Lab (Japan), Lakeside Centre Thamesmead (London)

The installation ‘Utoh (Birds of Sorrow)’ is inspired by a 15th Century Japanese Noh play. In Utoh (Birds of Sorrow), the protagonist, the ghost of an Utoh hunter (Utoh is a seabird - the rhinoceros auklet) is sent to hell to be tormented by his prey that have become phantom-birds. Using detritus from the Thames foreshore, the work re-imagines this story for the 21st Century, raising the spectre of our environmental pollution and its deadly repercussions for marine life. The flotsam and jetsam are held by crimson thread representing the tears of the seabirds whose young have been murdered. “From the sky the parent bird is weeping tears of blood...faster and faster fall the tears of blood, until my body cannot escape their mortal touch.” (Zeami, Utoh - Birds of Sorrow).

This work was commissioned for ‘The Ghost Tide’ (2018) at Thames-side Studios Gallery, London curated by Monika Bobinska and Sarah Sparkes.