The birds were constructed from recycled paper by UP staff and students in the style of the traditional Japanese paper art form, origami. The last few were completed by a group of high school learners who were visiting the Centre on Wednesday. Department of Visual Arts students created an astounding display by stringing the paper birds and transforming the collection into a larger than life work of art, suspended from the ceiling.
Sci-Enza was established to promote mathematics and science among school children. Because origami promotes important skills such as precision, planning and following instructions, this interactive Centre with a variety of fascinating displays offers origami workshops from time to time. The art principles involved in origami have strong mathematical roots.
There happens to be an old Japanese legend which says that one’s deepest desires will come true if you fold a thousand origami cranes. Sci-Enza’s Ms Helga Nordhoff read this story as well as a related story about a Japanese girl, Sadako Sasaki. Sadako was two years old when the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. She survived, but was diagnosed with leukaemia at the age of 12. During her protracted hospitalisation she tried to give form to the old legend by folding a thousand cranes. Her deepest desire was world peace. She died after completing 644 birds but her desire and her attempt is commemorated in Japan to this day.
Ms Nordhoff felt that this legend, and origami, would provide a meaningful link for Sci-Enza and UP’s participation in World Peace Day on 21 September. Students and staff spent nearly two months folding the more than a thousand birds. In addition to its focus on peace and mathematics, the project also renewed interest in the status of our national bird, the blue crane, as an endangered species.
On the same day a NASA astronaut, Dr Ellen Baker, told learners visiting Sci-Enza what it feels like to travel in space. The day was presented in cooperation with the Department of Science and Technology and the Embassy of the United States of America.