​Q&A with Sainsbury Sculpture Grant recipients

NAVA had a chat with Heidi Axelsen and Hugo Moline, two of the recipients of the 2014 Sainsbury Sculpture Grant, about their practice and upcoming residency in Japan.

Image: Heidi Axelsen learning how to weave Waraji, traditional Japanese sandals from rice straw with Gombei-san.

What are you going to use the Sainsbury Sculpture Grant towards?

The Sainsbury Sculpture Grant will help support our residency at Australia House, Echigo Tsumari, Japan. In this residency Heidi Axelsen, Nathan Hawkes and Hugo Moline will produce the work that will be exhibited as part of the 2015 Echigo Tsumari Art Trienniale.

Summer at Australia House
Summer at Australia House.

How did you discover the opportunity in Japan?

A couple of friends and colleagues told us about the opportunity and recommended we apply given the collaborative community approach of the Echigo Tsumari Art Trienniale.

Workshop run by Heidi Axelsen, Nathan Hawkes and Hugo Moline at Australia House.

What are you hoping to accomplish with your travels to Japan?

We are hoping to produce a work for the Triennial together with the local people of Urada, a work that will resonate with he local people and perhaps surprise them. Urada is a tiny village in the Echigo Tsumari agricultural region which faces depopulation, declining economy and extreme weather conditions. Schools and infrastructure to support a once larger population now stand empty. Despite these harsh conditions, the people are very warm and resilient. We hope our work acts as a gift to these people and this special place.

Winter at Australia House
Winter at Australia House.

Tell us about your art practice

We have a collaborative art practice that spans across sculpture and architecture. Together with our collaborators we design and build a range of site-specific devices: buildings, games, public machines: personalised vehicles, adaptable shelters, hand-made maps, soluble animals, edible cities, discursive infrastructure, and so on.

Nathan Hawkes, Heidi Axelsen and Hugo Moline
Nathan Hawkes, Heidi Axelsen and Hugo Moline - artists in residence at Australia House.

What do you hope this overseas opportunity will add to your practice?

The residency program has given us the experience of producing work in a very culturally specific context where our tacit understandings are both challenged and expanded. We hope this experience builds our ability to approach each new context with openness & inquisitiveness and ultimately strengthens our practice.

Workshop with Urada young people at Australia House.
Workshop with Urada young people at Australia House.



Heidi Axelsen and Hugo Moline, 2014 Sainsbury Sculpture Grant recipients.

All images courtesy of the artists.