Thursday, February 16, 2012

Equine Sculptural Origami


I'm writing this post on the occasion of the huge equestrian trade fair going on this week in Birmingham in the UK. A few Horse-Heads of mine are on display there, very much like these:

"Horse Heads", by Saadya, Feb 2012. Uncut sheets of Canson watercolor paper are pre-inked on one side and folded while wet.

These are origami sculptures: that is, they obey the rules of the new game of origami (start from a single sheet, and make your shape entirely by folding, without cutting), while trying to stay true also to requirements of traditional sculpture (an older game with a lot more rules...)

The display at the fair is meant to draw attention to a neat invention by Josephine Unsworth--about which, more below.


You visitors to the Birmingham Fair (and my regular readers too) might like to know that I am putting together a museum exhibition devoted entirely to horses and equestrian subjects. Besides my own things there will be work in it by some of the top origami designers in the world today. Origami is an entirely new medium for sculpture, with lots of potential for expressing an animal's personality, energy, soul --and a disarming magic that may be specially suited to the mysterious soul-bond we have with this particular beast. At any rate: it is unlikely you will have seen equine sculpture of this kind in person anywhere before.

This exhibit will travel, so if there's a museum or high-end gallery in your neighborhood that would be interested in hosting it, I'd be happy to hear from you. (The same goes for my regular readers and interested visitors around the world: drop me a line.)

"Origami Equestrians", by Saadya,1992. From a square sheet of contact paper + foil.  (Henkin Gallery of Design, Holon, Israel.)

A few years ago at the Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art (Haifa, Israel), I was privileged to be given the chance to assemble a large exhibit of artistic origami which had as a centerpiece this magnificent series of galloping horses, by the great Uruguayan origami artist Roman Diaz. This is the caliber of the work that I am aiming for now. Sculpture in origami, that can hold its own against anything done in any other medium, over the last 6,000 years.  Let those who think that "origami is just craft" go on with their chatter.

Roman Diaz (Uruguay), "Wild Horses". (Tikotin Museum of Japanese Art, Haifa, Israel.)

Finally--a word about my "sponsor" this week at the Birmingham BETA International fair, the optician Josephine Unsworth, who has a terrific, horse-sensitive invention she is launching there. It's a replacement for the blinders and nose-binds in use for centuries, that keeps a racehorse focused on the region in front of it (where it has stereoscopic vision) by making it peer through sort of goal posts positioned on the sides of its head. This lets the head and eye assume more natural positions, which means a less-stressed animal and in the end, a better racer. I really liked the concept-- a whole new way of considering what and how a horse sees, what makes its vision comfortable--and the thoroughness of the research that backed it up; which is why I joined forces with her. And the product that resulted is fresh, simple, well-thought-through: Just like good origami.

Wishing you a fun and prosperous fair

Saadya Sternberg.