Art is a way for people to deal with intense issues and daily crises. Artist Hilda Hellstrom has employed her own version of art therapy to deal with the after effects of last year's nuclear meltdown in Japan. Hellstrom worked with Fukushima victim Naoto Matsumura to create a series of food vessels made from the still radioactive soil of the Fukushima evacuation zone. Called “The Materiality of a Natural Disaster,” the five vessels were part of her 2012 degree project for the Royal College of Art.
Working with The Foreign Correspondence Club Japan, Hellstrom learned of Naoto Matsumura, a native of the Fukushima area. Refusing to leave the affected zone near the Daiji power plant, Matsumura is the last man living in Fukushima’s evacuated zone.
Once Hellstrom was put into contact with Matsumura, she documented his day to day life in the radioactive zone for four days, snapping pictures as she got to know the 52 year old farmer who has dedicated his life to taking care of the pets and cattle left behind in the evacuated area.
Visiting the affected area for days, Hellstrom collected soil from the contaminated rice fields. Still slightly radioactive, the designer sculpted the soil into a series of five pieces of pottery. A serving dish, bowl, vase, water glass and covered container resemble artifacts that could have been discovered on an archeological dig.
The product of Hellstrom’s experience with Matsumura and at the Fukushima area, the food vessels make something useful from the wasteland and create a new tactile symbol of the historical disaster in the same way a chunk of the Berlin Wall symbolizes its intense history.