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Architectural suitcases

Posted by Hiromi Tango

Since 2010 many of my artistic projects, in collaboration with my husband Craig Walsh, have required us to be on the road. For nearly two years we travelled around regional Australia in a motorhome, with our toddler. The theme of the collaborative project we were working on at the time was around the idea of 'home' and was entitled Craig Walsh Digital Odyssey, a Museum of Contemporary Art touring project. As anyone who has spent an extended period of time away can relate to, those things that we carry with us give us a sense of connection to the places we consider 'home' – becoming especially important. In this way, a suitcase can become a repository for identity, as it carries those things that we consider essential to ourselves. A well-travelled suitcase also collects its own history. As such, they can represent many layers of personal histories, places and collective memory.

Art Magic with Suitcases, ArtGeo Gallery, Busselton, October 2013. Photography: Matthew CabreraArt Magic with Suitcases, ArtGeo Gallery, Busselton, October 2013. Photography: Matthew Cabrera

Another project that has evolved over several locations is 'HIROMI HOTEL', which is based on the idea of creating spaces for people to share stories and create collaboratively. The project has taken place in many different kinds of structures, such as a 2 x 2 m perspex box or a caravan in a gallery. They have all been places where people can stay for as long as they like, sometimes drawing, chatting or writing notes. 'HIROMI HOTEL' is more a place for your mind and soul to be nourished, where your corporal self can find some peace as well.

Similar to the ideas of the projects 'HOME' and 'HIROMI HOTEL', I am interested – in FIVE Busselton – in creating an architectural space using suitcases. At the time of writing, local organisations and artists in the Busselton area have already donated over 40 suitcases. I would like to explore with community members how we can use these objects that carry so much of our identity, memory and history to create a space where we can come together to share stories and create collaboratively. 

Dr Christine Bagley-Jones, a psychologist, suggests that suitcases represent the beginning and the end. Suitcases are great and gentle means of representing packing and unpacking emotions in the psychological terms, and building the architectural space by suitcases would be truly Art Magic!

Please join me for workshops at ArtGeo, Thursday through  Monday from 11am to 4pm. I am also actively visiting schools and organisations, bringing art materials and art magic. I will be providing visiting arts workshops at organisations until the 4th of November. Please enquire directly to Hiromi on 0413 967 716 or email me at hiromitango@hotmail.comA sample of art materials will be provided, and a briefing can be arranged at ArtGeo. Local artists, organisations and members of the public are invited to take suitcases home to work in their own comfortable environment. Please return art suitcases by the 11th of November (Monday) and explore with me how we can build a sense of belonging. 

Comments (2)

Trish Waters

At Cape Naturaliste College I spent a week working with about 120 staff and students to create items for our magic suitcase, displaying aspects of our school community and the sense of belonging we enjoy here. The outside of the case represents the public face of our school, promotional items and a more formal structure. When you open it you see a crazy, colourful mix of puppets representing individuals, art images, written thoughts about what belonging means to our students all bound together in a chaotic, joyful nest. We hope you enjoy viewing it as much as we have enjoyed being part of this project. Thank-you Hiromi and everyone else involved in our awesome Busselton Shire community.


I am so looking forward to joining this project Hiromi and Craig. Thank-you for the opportunity.

Let's hear your voice

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