Published: 04 Aug 2021
Pacific Breeze II
White Conduit Projects
Opening: Sat 7 Aug 3:00 pm - 8:30 pm
The show will continue to Sun 29 Aug (at the site & online)
Sun 26 Sept 7pm (online only - The Auction Collective)
View the auction and artwork here
Following on from the success of the 2018 Pacific Breeze exhibition, in July 2021 White Conduit Projects will once again bring a summer breeze to London, from all around the world. The Artists will create their own contemporary interpretation of the fan. Some of the fans are purely aesthetic, and others contain messages such as a social or political comment.
With the travel restrictions of the past year, owing to the pandemic, many of us have been unable to fulfil our desire to venture across the oceans. However, White Conduit Projects has sent a fan to 100 artists and designers from different nationalities based in many parts of the globe. The artists come from diverse backgrounds, practices, and generations.
The artwork created for this exhibition reflects the multiplicity of interests and approaches to the folding fan.
The fans will be exhibited from the 28th of July until the 29th of August and then sold at the site and online. Each fan comes with its own stand created by the London based designer Michael Marriott specially for this exhibition. White Conduit Projects will donate a minimum of 10% of the proceeds from the sale to support a marine environmental charity, which we are currently contacting.
Folding fans were invented around the 6th-9th century in Japan. Traditionally made from bamboo or wooden strips covered with Washi paper, they were first used by aristocrats and Samurais as a symbol of social standing. Besides their cooling function, they also served as a communication device, a learning tool, a weapon, and a writing surface. There are many examples of folding fans with maps, instructions, educational texts, regulations, and calendars, showing how versatile they could be. Only in later times did the folding fan become a purely decorative object. Women’s fans had brighter colours, painted flowers and ribbons, while men’s fans were larger and unadorned.
Some European nations started journeys of discovery in the beginning of the 15th century: “By oceans where none had ventured / Voyaged to Taprobana and beyond” . This period was of great importance for a rapid increase in the pace of exchange of cultural goods and customs (not always for the better). In 1543, the Portuguese (the “nanban” or “southern barbarians”)  were the first Europeans to arrive in Japan. This moment was important for Japan, because it was the first time they were in contact with “the Other”.
Among the objects imported to Europe were Japanese folding fans (“sensu”or “ōgi”), which are the ones to be
displayed in this exhibition. They arrived in Europe both from China, via the Silk Road, and also through maritime trade conducted by the Portuguese. They became very popular in the 16th century and by the 18th century many Europeans had integrated the fan into their social customs, with diverse functions and meanings. The folding fan served as a lavish fashion accessory, house decoration, and even as entertainment at a boring event (for the fan could conceal written messages). By the 17th century, in Paris there were 150 shops selling sensu fans.
Not all the fans sent out this year arrived at their destinations and not all were returned. Some might have been lost in their travels and are, perhaps still traversing the oceans, fighting against the Cyclops or staying with Calypso to enjoy her seductive charms. Maybe in ten years they will all finally get home to London. 
 Second and third verses of Canto I from The Lusiads (1572) by Luís Vaz de Camões.
 Name given by the Japanese to the Portuguese traders.
 Allusion to the Odyssey by Homer that narrates the challenges faced by Ulysses in his journey back home to Ithaca.