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Loukia Richards

Finding treasures in trash

A visual art project on the train crossing the German-Dutch border

Bahnfasern zu Grenzverbindungen was the title of the project that scholar Loukia Richards created in the train that connects the German city of Münster with Dutch Enschede.

Working together with volunteers, the visual artist accumulated over the period of a month (4 October – 4 November) recyclable materials that she was given by passengers on the train. Following this "waste-safari", the artist converted the materials into fibres before the eyes of the – often amazed – passengers, offering them at the same time free lessons on spinning and knitting on the train!

The scholar’s aim was to knit, together with the volunteers, a "gigantic tapestry from waste" and to speak creatively on issues like recycling, upcycling, the scarcity of raw materials, energy policy, mobility in Europe, intercultural communication, high-tech fibres, as well as on the landscape of the two countries, as the colours and shapes in the tapestry allude to the fields and countryside of Westphalia and Twente. At workshops subsequently held in cultural institutions in the border country and in Berlin, Richards taught participants how to process waste (paper, plastic, textile) and turn it into raw materials for creating works of art.

The scholar also encouraged participants to give their own personal account of the textile, their region, as well as the not always peaceful German-Dutch relations, in order for this intercultural meeting to prove a fruitful experience. It should be pointed out that the most important textile factories in Europe were in operation on the German-Dutch border until the 1960s.

The finissage of this visual project took place at the Hellenic Foundation for Culture in Berlin, where the scholar told a modern version of the myth of the Labyrinth before an international audience.

The Bahnfasern zu Grenzverbindungen project belongs to the category of participatory art and was designed to promote communication in the European region and bring to the fore issues for discussion such as ecology, economic sustainability, participation and sharing, the history of European culture, oral history, life and work in a community. The project was funded by GrensWerte/Euregio as part of the European programme Interreg IV. It was at the same time an experiment in communication, social networking and mobility, whilst its action model can be applied in the fields of marketing, communication, public information on economic issues, politics, education, environmental and social policy, and the so-called "corporate bonding".

Loukia Richards lives and works in Hamburg. She is involved with textiles and participatory art, while she is also the initiator of Stitchathlon, a mixture of textile art, narration and theatre. She graduated with honours from the Berlin University of the Arts (HdK), holds a degree from the School of Economics at the National Technical University of Athens and scholarships from the Alexander S. Onassis Public Benefit Foundation, the Fulbright Foundation, the Künstlerdorf Schöppingen Foundation and the Crafts Council England.

Further information and full events programme: http://www.grenswerte.eu/project/bahnfasern/nl

Links related to the project:
www.loukiarichards.tk
http://dezine.gr/#Recycled-textile-art
http://www.muensterschezeitung.de/lokales/metelen/Unterwegs-mit-Textilkuenstlerin-Loukia-Richards;art998,1789963
http://www.wn.de/Muensterland/Kreis-Steinfurt/Metelen/Stricken-mit-Muell-Kunst-und-Kontakt-in-einem-Zuge
http://www.handwerkenzondergrenzen.nl/nieuw/