Not many of us have had the chance to visit the Republic of Naminara, but then again how many of us have had a chance to go to Fairyland!
The Republic of Naminara or Nami Island is a small island in South Korea, but it can be mistaken for Red Riding hood’s forest, Sleeping Beauty’s garden or an island where Snow White and the seven dwarfs might have lived. It is a land of fairytales. Not only has nature blessed this island with an abundance of beauty but the people living on this island have done a lot to preserve and add to it.
How did I ever hear of this little piece of fairyland on earth? Well the credit for that goes to the International Board of Books for Young People (IBBY). This organization has members and national sections all over the world and they promote reading and good literature for children. As part of their efforts to make reading fun the KBBY (The Korean section of IBBY) holds an annual book festival on Nami Island every year, and as the Alif Laila Book Bus Society is also a member of the IBBY or is the Pakistani section of IBBY I had the pleasure of going to Nambook 2008 to represent none other than…GUSTO! A Pakistani national children’s magazine of which I am the editor. We had a lovely stall there for Pakistan and in order to show some of our colorful culture to Korean children we conducted a block-printing workshop. The children loved block-printing paper and then covering little journals with it. The fun however, did not stop there, the children also got to embellish the journals using gota (traditional Pakistani braids and ribbons) and flowers, sequins and mirrors and were able to see for themselves the wonders of the colorful Pakistani culture!
I have told you a little about Nami Island, but I still have not revealed where altered art figures in all of this. Well, while walking around Nami Island, I saw a few of their recycling projects or you could call them altered art projects, because not only were they preserving the environment by conserving, they were also beautiful pieces of art.
The three pictures below show my favorite ideas on the island. These huge colorful bricks are actually a lot of colorful cans that have been squashed together to make an impressive show piece. A lot of people gather around these attracted by their bright colors. The other picture is of green glass bottles that were embedded in the ground flower beds to make an unusual edging. The last one is an old bicycle that was tyres that have been used as looms to weave stuff in. The handlebars have also been treated…all in all it makes quite an orignal sculpture.
Altered art at least to me means altering an existing item (one that may have been thrown away or one that should be recycled) and using it to create something beautiful and useful. That is what I saw in Naminara… the art of recycling.