View the video of the opening here:

Fumie Tiles (2003)

Materials: Ceramic tiles

Dimensions: 25 x 25 cm tiles x 2200 pieces

“European settlement in Australia has brought vast changes on the landscape. Many of our native butterfly species, together with other fauna and flora, have suffered in these changes. As cropland, pastures, cities and roads have taken the place of bushland, the plants that caterpillars eat and the flowers where butterflies feed have disappeared. Exotic weeds invade their habitats and introduced insects attack them. The hilltops where they congregate have been levelled or had towers built on them. The fragility of Ken Yonetani’s butterfly tiles underfoot symbolizes the vulnerability of these beautiful creatures under man’s onslaught on the environment.”

Kim Pullen, Ecosystem Function Team, CSIRO Entomology

Japanese fumie were originally made with metal or wood and featured an image of Jesus Christ. The fumie in my work however is made from ceramic tiles and features images of Australian endangered butterflies.  The tiles were made to be extremely fragile, having been fired at a low temperature and with no glazing. They took over six months to make. These tiles were covered across a large space of the gallery floor. The audience had to walk on the tiles in order to enter the exhibit. Over 2000 tiles were broken in less than an hour.

This interactive installation work was exhibited at CSIRO Discovery Australia in 2003.

This project was assisted by Kim Pullen, Ecosystem Function Team, CSIRO Entomology.