Naoshima island – art and farmland

Naoshima island used to be home to a few fishermen and farmers, however the number of population was decreasing quickly, due to the dying fishing industry and old age of the population.

Naoshima island

Naoshima island

Until the artists came! Today, Naoshima island has a number of art museums and art installations as well as sculptures scattered across the island. What was once a run down island without any real future now has a thriving art community and has become an international tourist destination.

One of the most iconic and famous sculptures is the pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama, an internationally renowned Japanese artist who I personally like a lot. So of course I had to go to the island and see her pumpkins! There are actually a yellow one and a red one.

Yayoi Kusama pumpkin Yayoi Kusama pumpkin

Yayoi Kusama pumpkin Yayoi Kusama pumpkin

The pumpkin is part of the Benesse Art site. Benesse was the first organisation that chose this island as a location for their growing art collection and thus kick started the development from a little rural fishing island to an international art destination. They have a modern art museum and several sculptures along the beach. Including some by Niki de Saint Phalle, an artist who is very close to my hometown Hanover (or not my hometown, as you will know from one of my previous posts).

Niki de Saint Phalle Naoshima Niki de Saint Phalle Naoshima Niki de Saint Phalle Naoshima

The Benesse art museum and several others were designed by the Japanese architect Tadao Ando and have a very unique smooth concrete style, which I like a lot. He made sure that his buildings were integrated with nature. The Chichu art museum was particular fascinating as it was built mainly under ground but it had a lot of natural light inside.

chi chu museum naoshima

Among other art this museum housed five or so of Monet’s water lilies. I have to admit that I normally find these water lilies extremely boring. It’s just one of those things that has haunted me since secondary school and has never got me excited. But the way they were presented in this museum changed everything. Tadao Ando specifically designed a room for these paintings and the space and the lighting worked so well together (and the floor was quite special too!). It was really gripping. I spent so much time going in and out of this room, because the best part was slowly entering it and seeing the light, all the white space and the blue and green paintings unfold.

No pictures inside any of the art museums, so I can’t share this here. Although I think no picture could have done it justice.

There were several other pieces of art scattered around including these:

naoshima island benesse

This one was interesting. You could go inside and suddenly you felt like you were still outside! From the outside it looks like a completely closed off and potentially dark room. But when you’re inside you see that it has no roof and the glass is just mirror glass from the outside.naoshima island benesse

So this was my first day on the island. The second day I spent exploring the Honmura art house project.

Read my blogpost about it here.

All photos taken with my LC-A+ and LC-Wide on 35mm Kodak film.

2 thoughts on “Naoshima island – art and farmland

  1. Hi Rabea, I love the look of this island. I espcially like the pumpkins, really random (as is the camel, or is it a Loch Ness Monster, plant pot holder). I saw some of Monet’s huge water lily paintings in the Tuilleries Gallery, it was quite by chance as this was one of only a few places open on a day of museum workers’ takin gindustrial action. The paintings were amazing, each one takin gup a whole wall in the gallery. I’ve also been twice to Monet’s garden in Giverny, just outside Paris and that makes me even more of a fan of his art.
    Keep on keeping on, I’m loving catching up with your travels


    1. Thanks for your kind comment! :) I was never really a fan of Monet but after I saw the paintings presented like this, I might be generous and give him another chance.

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