Two adults are walking in a woodland plantation walking along the bottom of a shallow valley with steep wooded slopes on both sides

Ise City, British Council

About the Ise City Residency programme 

In October 2019, Ise City in Mie Prefecture and the British Council invited seven artists from the UK to participate in the Ise City Residency programme. During their two-week stay, the artists visited Ise Jingu and other famous sites to deepen their understanding of Ise's deep-rooted history and nature. 

More than three years later, in January 2023, Matthew Rosier, Nicole Vivien Watson, and Jane and Louise Wilson revisited Ise to create new works. The three groups, who have garnered attention in Japan and abroad, gained inspiration from their interactions with the local people. 

In February 2023, we spoke with Matthew Rosier, about his experience in Ise and its influence on his work. 

About Matthew Rosier

Matthew Rosier is an artist based in London. He is noted for his immersive installations in public spaces that combine technology with film and sound. His work often deals with personal memories and public histories embedded within social, architectural, and ecological contexts. His work for the Ise City Residency also features a unique perspective that captures the present by connecting the past with the future.

Being inspired by Ise and its influence on new work

How did the 2019 visit to Ise affect you?

My visit to Ise in 2019 had a defining influence on the direction of my subsequent work. Currently, the focus of my work is on human relationships with forests. I look at the relationships people have had with forests in the past and explore new forms of interactions. I have a strong interest in sustainability, especially in the forestry industry, and express my thoughts through my work. This has taken a variety of forms, including public art installations, environmental campaigns, films, teaching, and presentations.

What were your impressions of Ise after returning three years later?

It was an honour to return to a place so distant, yet with which I now feel a connection. I was able to reconnect with old friends, revisit memorable places, and take advantage of opportunities to film.

Please tell us about your new work.

We paid particular attention to the Shikinen Sengu at Ise Jingu, the Shinto ritual of rebuilding and renewal that takes place every 20 years. We spent a lot of time in the area and surrounding forests to better understand Ise and the relationship between Ise Jingu and nature. We were also able to visit one of the plantations that supplies wood to the shrine and the old forest surrounding the shrine. We conducted interviews with engineers and architects who support Ise's ecosystem. Bringing together these multiple perspectives, the new work is a visual representation of sustainability as seen in the Shikinen Sengu ceremony. 

About ‘Wood Rots Like We Do’

‘Wood Rots Like We Do’ is a 20 chapter film about the ancient shrines of the Ise Jingu. It will be presented online in 20 parts, with one chapter released each week for 20 weeks starting with the release of Chapter 01 on Thursday 30 March 2023. Audiences will be able to enjoy the films from our dedicated webpageas well as the artist’s Vimeo channel.

See also

External links