Experiments in material, warp, and weft. 
Funafuti Weaving, and Hawai’i Wood Show Weaving

Levels of Funafuti

Date:                  Autumn 2017.
Location:              Honolulu,HI.
Materials:     Recycled book pages,
Jute, Spalted Mango Wood.

 Levels of Funafuti directly talks about the impending impact of climate change, particularly sea level rise, on the community on the Tuvaluvian Island Funafuti. 

The background
Funafuti, an atoll in Tuvalu with a population of about 6,000 people, is in danger. Environmentally it is in trouble. Funafuti is on track to be the first inhabited island to be entirely submerged by sea-level rise. The atoll holds about 60% of Tuvalu’s population. Culturally Funafuti is also in danger. The lack of higher education and limits on income level on the island is causing many of the younger people to leave and only return for visits and bring money home to family.
The breath of life in Tuvalu is the water. Life exists in fishing boats, and people rely on the one thing that will soon take their homes from them; the ocean.

The concept

Funafuti is reliant on the lagoon and ocean connecting the islands. Much of the artwork bringing awareness to Funafuti solely focuses on the destruction that global warming is doing to the island and not on the people and relationships they harbour. This artwork was made while living in the Pacific. While I  cannot relate to Tuvaluvian culture personally, I was encompassed by Polynesian culture and southern pacific friends.
To talk about the doubling relationship that Tuvaluan people have with the ocean, the weave is double-sided. One side calm and organised, the other slightly more unruly. The fishing line adds to the unruliness while also acknowledging the need of the lagoon in providing food.
The entire weave is made up of recycled and old books. Each page was ripped into strips following the grain to be woven in with fishing line and the jute warp. The different shades, weight, and markings of the paper create gentle swells of interlocking cultures to bring together the same goal eventually.

The Body Experience
To connect our bodies with the bodies and culture in discussion, making the textile non-precious and not just visually sensorial was essential. To fully understand the multi-nature of the relationship to the sea, we have to observe the piece from both sides and many angles. From the top-down, we can see the calm. We can see the mixing of cultures. From below, when laying on the ground underneath, the tendrils of the fishing line start tickling us; we can hear and feel the rustling together of the restless paper. Finally, when we look at the piece from the side, we see the authentic relationships between both sides. To lie underneath means to experience immersion “under the water” and only seeing some light peeping through.

Gallery Showing

Levels of Funafuti was part of a two-month-long exhibition in the University of Hawai’i Commons Gallery that looked at the impact of climate change through alternative material textiles.

Hawai’i Wood Show Prize Winner

Date:                     Spring, 2018.
Location:                  Honolulu,HI.
Materials: Jute, Native Hawai’ian Woods
(Opiuma, Norfolk Pine, Sugi,
Koa, Camphor, Spalted Mango)

Winner of the 2018 Hawai’i Wood Show i+i Challenge

The Challenge
For the Hawaii Wood Show 2018, I competed in the i+i Design Challenge. They provided several planks of off-cut Hawai’ian wood with the prompt to create an object(s) that interacted with light. We could only use the off-cut wood provided.

The Concept
The approach to this piece was based entirely on the shapes of the off-cut wood provided.  I took the opportunity to push the limits of what I could do with weaving and how to weave.
I decided to butterfly the off-cut opiuma and connect it with spalted mango butterfly joints to make a frame. The existing termite holes were the perfect spots to thread my jute warp through. Once the frame was made and warp wrapped, I decided to play with light and transparency by making veneers from the rest of the wood (mango, sugi, Norfolk pine, koa, camphor) by a method of quick boiling. That way, the wood became desaturated, and there was ease to bend and dry over time. From then, it was as simple as gently threading through each individual bent veneer. 

CHLOE JENNY BENNIE. PROVIDENCE, RI. benniechloe@gmail.com