Crackling, Twisting, Unleashing, Roaring
Crimson emerged from caterpillar
Color of sun
Everything —is alive.
In between his travels to the Kingdom of Bhutan to lead a weaving project for an international organization, Nelson would share his discoveries and encounters with this mystical land through these images. What struck me most about them was how they impart a vision of Bhutan that is entrancingly unexpected. And having come to understand his beautiful process and values during our years of friendship, I knew that these images revealed something beyond just the spectacular. They speak of efforts at digging into the roots of a place and its people in order to align what to create with how to create it. They are windows into the precious qualities that remain intact in this remote part of the world: purity, sincerity, the primal and the essential. Remembering the origin of things and reconnecting to the elemental serve to anchor us at this critical and challenging crossroad in our history.
We remember that craft, too, is born from and interconnected to a larger context: collective memory, surroundings, seasons, a particular relationship with time unique to each community and person. In this sense, Nelson is inviting us to make the effort to look at that larger context so that we can unearth its essence.
Hence, I asked him to transport us to this magical kingdom through his unadulterated vision of this hidden world, through his words. We hear water, quiet and thunderous, trickling, rushing down the mountains. We imagine women “sorceresses” concocting color under big trees by the stream. We smell the putrid dried leaves of indigo and the steaming and violent emergence of colors born from Earth. We bathe in the land’s pure light that filters through and throughout, reminding us of the vast powerful nature out there beyond the walls. We see silence, we flow through at a different pace. All such impressions, feelings, sensations, memories, encapsulated in these images and spoken words become the references for the work that takes shape. As such, Nelson inspires us to grasp the bigger scheme of things so that we may create meaningfully.
We go back to the life source to remember how to move forward. We forge a future by rerooting ourselves back to the soil, to the elemental,and to origin itself.
Craft originated in nature, at the beginning of time. Craft is a tool gifted to us by nature. Its pace is shaped by time. And this time was aligned to nature once, long ago. This story is an ode to nature, time, and craft their progeny.
— Mona Kim
we are so obsessed
with the need to be efficient
in regards to time.
In Bhutan, they just don’t care.
you shed the sense
of time as we know it.
The activity of weaving
is interwoven into people’s daily chores and work.
They weave when they have time.
They weave at their rhythm.
They weave at the rhythm
of the seasons.”
– Nelson Sepulveda
“The beauty of craft
is that the construction of every object embodies a particular energy.
That energy is directly linked with a particular rhythm that is specifically human and connected with nature.”
“Why do objects made by
artisans touch us so deeply?
Being in Bhutan provided clear answers to this question that I had for a long time. I believe this has to do with how these objects incarnate the notion of time that we dream of—the long and slow time that we have lost today.”
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is a form of writing in itself.
It is the ‘writing’ of time
that has transpired.
When you touch a textile,
you feel that time
is imprinted in each thread.
Time that is
missing in our society is manifested
in these weaves.”
“The people of Bhutan
are conscious of being the guardians of nature. They’re born into that way of seeing the world, and they grow up in that way of being. That’s what you perceive when you’re there.”
“There are some altitudes
where the people of Bhutan do not go because it’s understood as the home of the gods. If you really believe that, imagine how that changes the way you interact and relate to nature. We have lost that perspective.”
“…sometimes I see a dragon in a rock.”
“When you’re in the valley,
your hearing becomes so incredible.
You hear all the most amazing
big and little sounds."
"Most of the rivers, they are so big.
I can hardly sleep at night
because the noises of the water
powerfully rushing down from the mountain
and rocks rolling down from the
surrounding mountains are so strong.”
we were walking
to find things to dye.
And then we got a whiff of jasmine.
We found so much jasmine
climbing on old trees.”
“In these non-city places
where artisans live, there is a pure link or permanent connection with nature. What is also beautiful is the particular link they have with spirituality: in each person’s home, there is a tiny alter which connects them to the gods every day. This is the link I believe we have lost in the structures of our societies.”
“This country is deeply rooted
in the ancient practice of Buddhism. People take the time to go to the temple to consult a monk for astrology. Incarnation, astrology, the way they interpret the changes in the season—mysticism is clearly very much alive in everyday events. Even a weaver seems to invoke shamanism or something animistic. As it was in the ancient days, so it is today.”
“This tiny kingdom,
they’re not spoiled by overproduction.
We are placed under a constant tsunami of things,
but upon arrival here,
we realize that most of the things
we own aren’t needed.”
“The pure light of Bhutan.
You can almost touch it.”
“You see from the outside,
a very dark giant building.
Then when you walk in,
these holes or windows create these lights.
The corridors are very long,
but they’re always punctuated by these
rays of natural light source
coming from everywhere.
It’s very magical.”
“The way things happen there is magical.
The conditions in Bhutan are very basic. Yet, you’re in a fairytale because you’re under a big tree close to a river, or enveloped in pure strong nature that surrounds you. All the dyeing takes place right in the middle of pure nature, the most primal form of color dyeing. Can you imagine how that connects you to time immemorial, when people could have been standing where I am right now, doing the same thing, with similar sets of elements and tools?”
“These women who dye,
they evoke in my mind sorceresses who live in the middle of a forest and harvest from nature to concoct potions of colors. The women taste the color to gauge temperature, acidity, and such. They’re driven by pure intuition, adding this, adding that. It is pure magic.”
the compositions in the weaving,
the rhythm, the patterns…
are all reflective of the architecture.”
“These colors are found
everywhere in Bhutan.
The color associations are very unusual,
very surprising for me.
I find it fascinating that they see colors
“Since the beginning,
someone was in the middle of this beautiful place preparing the thread to make a blanket.
So that blanket is not a blanket you just throw on top of something.”
“A thread or a yarn is like a cable:
something which will be connected or knotted to something else, to become something else such as a fabric. In that spirit, even when you’re inside four walls, you are aware that you’re in an incredible natural setting, weaving materials that come from animals and plants that are part of that setting. Simply standing in the middle of this amazing nature, creating thread that comes from nature, you feel like you’re part of nature. There is a sense of connecting with something that is far beyond the object that will be made.”
“When you live
with minimum resources,
you harvest and receive directly from nature,
which creates a sense of connection
that is immediate.
Because you’re part of it,
you’re immersed in it.”
“I want the weavers
to bring themselves into the weaving—
their memories of landscape and culture—
and weave that into the weaving.”
“Textiles that mirror all that beauty,
even architecture, is a way of giving them a strong identity. I believe this is how we need to work today when working with craft. And although there are many layers to a way of working, protecting these vanishing beauties, and capturing their essence is becoming more and more difficult. That is because they're being constantly impacted by orientations driven by the huge markets of our world. So how can we manage to keep this pure innocence intact?”
– Nelson Sepulveda
Nelson Sepulveda is a creator of artisan-made homeware, furniture, and objects. He travels the world to collaborate with local artisan communities for collections he develops for the brands such as Ay Illuminate and Cinq Etoiles. In recent years, he has been driving a project in Bhutan to rebuild a foundation for the country’s contemporary textile collection with the aim to preserve the essence of the culture and its identity by working exclusively with natural and local materials. During his early days in Paris, Nelson designed makeup ranges for luxury brands. He later joined Edelkoort Studio, where he provided creative direction for View and Bloom magazines. He has been a contributing art director, set designer, stylist, and editor for various editorials including Mairie Claire, Selvedge, Le Monde d'Hermes, and Architectural Digest. He has also collaborated on special projects for the brand Dosa. Nelson is represented in Paris by Gallois Montbrun & Fabiani Agency.
Mona Kim is the Founder and Curator of Moowon magazine. As the Creative Director of award-winning multidisciplinary design studio, Mona Kim Projects, she has been conceiving public space experiences and large-scale experiential projects for global brands and cultural institutions. Her museum and exhibition design for the Canadian Museum of Human Rights, World Expo, Museum of Tomorrow (Museu do Amanhã), and UNESCO-sponsored projects, gave her the opportunity to document and be exposed to some of the most distinctive examples of social realities and cultural expressions. She had co-curated world issues such as endangered languages, cultural diversity, sustainability, climate change and anthropocene. The Moowon project is an extension of this background. Her work has been featured in The New York Times, WWD(Women's Wear Daily), The Creative Review, and in publications by Gestalten and The Art Institute of Chicago.
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