Grandmas Urchins, 2020. Fabric and metal. Keelung City, Taiwan. 12m(L) X 1.5m(W) X 6m(H).
Grandmas urchins is an installation on a public site in the Keelung Zhengbin Fishing Port. This installation was made with metal and fabric and is formed by different woven urchins attached to the walls of the sheet metal house in front of the Port. The installation is visible from different angles and distances along the port and has free access for the viewers at any time. The intention of the artwork is to commemorate the sea food traditions of the area along with the fishing traditions of the local people. Urchins represent the decrease in the edible species along with the disappearing of the way of life of the sea women in Keelung.
Urchins have a spherical body with moveable spines, which gives the class the name Echinoidea (from the Greek ekhinos, spine. They live in all the seabed, up to 2500 meters deep. Like other echinoderms, the early larvae have bilateral symmetry while mature urchins develop five-fold symmetry. In Taiwan the urchin is part of the traditional sea food. In the late years its population has decreased, the eatable urchins are less every year and their population is being replaced by the Devils urchin. The sea women used to catch them and bring them to the table a long with other sea products.
In past times, these grandmas would dive into the sea during the low fishing season to harvest gelidium seaweed, sea urchins, abalone, sea snails and hair moss, sometimes working in water temperatures of less than 10°C. Few young people today are willing to take up the traditional job, resulting in a sharp decrease in the number of existing sea women.
This piece commemorates the urchins collected by the ¨sea women¨ of Keelung, seeking to revive memories of a fast-disappearing way of life of the sea women and the urchins in Keelung.
All the fabric is repurposed material donated by Yee Chain International Co.
Copyright © Lua Rivera. All rights reserved.