Wednesday, 28 March 2012

More paper works

Magie Hollingsworth (website here, from which the images below are taken) is an English artist who uses recycled waste paper pulp to create objects and vessels which have many of the characteristics of ceramics, but also display a fragility and roughness which I find very attractive.  Her work is often of domestic scale and represents familiar domestic tools and other items, but this adds to the interest of things made from waste but which are, in their 'real' forms, essential for everyday lives.  I found Magie via the Galanthus Gallery, near Hereford, on the link here.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

More ways to use paper

Browsing galleries and websites has brought me to several more highly original and interesting artists, including a number from Japan.  Japanese artist Kiyomi Iwata,  whose website is here, who lives and works in the US, creates sculptural forms from silk and metal, but the effect is semi-translucent and has the whisky, papery quality which I am searching fro in designing my final project piece based around deconstructing and re-generation from paper.   Her work is quite varied, and includes the use of strong colours.  Images from her website, link above.

Kibiso Three: 2009, 13x9x13" Raw silk is dyed, woven and stiffened.

Red Stitched Box: 1988, 4x4x4 in. Silk organza dyed & fabricated

Revolving Two: 2006, 48x8x6 in. Silk organza fabricated, stiffened and dyed.

Red Torso Three: 2005, 20x22x15 in. Silk organza dyed and fabricated

Red Torso Three: 2005, 20x22x15 Red Torso Three: 2005, 20x22x15 in. Silk organza dyed and fabricated. Silk organza dyed and fabricated

paper works

Beautiful work in paper by German artist Helene Tschacher (her website is here, from which all the following images are copied).  She has done amazingly interesting things with cut and folded paper.  I particularly like the way this work uses old paper but leaves slices and glimmers of the old text visible, and sometimes uses the dark colour of the printing to add depth to her assemblages.

This kind of work is inspirational for my own final project, where I want to re-use and re-form essentially ordinary printed A4 paper, symbolising my journey into creativity, and away from my old professional life of government reports, academic articles and essays.    I am still floundering around thinking of ways to express this - either by tearing my paper up and scattering it to the four winds somehow, or of pulping it to make 3D objects (or more paper??), or alternately to use it unchanged, but to create something interesting and hopefully tactile from the swathes of text I used to deal with every day.

Monday, 19 March 2012

Using my paper: printing

Having made quite a large number of sheets of paper, of varying thickness but overall fairly consistent quality, I now need to think about what to do with them.  I have made an attempt at printing.

I first of all made three very simple dry-point plates using the plastic "glass" from some cheap IKEA frames.  I inked here up and printed them on the etching press at college.  Normally you soak the paper for this process.  I tried putting a sheet into the soaking tank - and of course, it instantly started to fall apart:  hand-made paper is not strong enough for this kind of treatment!

So I pressed on using paper I had dampened slightly by wiping it with a damp cloth just before printing.  However, a second problem was that the roles on the press had been adjusted wrongly so that the pressure was uneven, and the prints came out a bit lop-sided.  I quite liked the results, even so - they are rather faint, rather grainy, but work well on some of the first batch of paper, which has quite a lot of tiny bits of text showing randomly here and there.  

I subsequently had another go, once the press had been adjusted correctly, and these were also rather nice.  The images are just very simple scratched scribbles - but they are not unlike some of the 'not-writing' drawings I produced for my Pathway Project.  

I also made some plates using the "poor man's etching" method, i.e. by cutting into the surface of card which I had painted with shellac to give it surface and strength.  I made three small designs, each one based on the idea of tearing something into strips - which is of course what I've been doing with my re-cycled paper.  

These printed pretty well, without me having to dampen the paper much, or at all in some cases.  I think there was quite a lot of ink on the plates - the rough cut surface of the card absorbs quite heavily so there was a good lot to transfer onto the dry paper.  

This time I printed some onto the paper made of clean white copier sheets and - not surprisingly - the results are clear but rather dull.  The prints onto the greyer, grainy, paper with occasional glimpses of the old text, are much better.  

Sunday, 18 March 2012

making paper, part II

Over the weekend, I had another go at making paper, this time using plain white copy paper and trying to 'mash' it in the kitchen blender to a finer pulp.  I managed to achieve this finer mix, so the "soup" of paper pulp and water was even creamier than previously, and therefore the paper sheets I produced were also thinner and smoother.  I improved my arrangements for drying the sheets of paper.  

I rigged up a series of "washing lines" indoors - i.e. rows of string tied between two kitchen chairs, and the J-cloths pegged onto them like a proper washing line.  I was worried that the paper would fall off before it was fully dry, but this didn't happen.  

It dried still firmly attached to the cloth, and once dry, it was easy to separate the two layers and pile the paper up.  I cannot imagine how this was done easily before the invention of J-cloths....

I rather liked the effect of a nice bouncy pile of my freshly made sheets of paper.   The wrinkly, deckled edges looked very good, and from the side-view the textural quality of the hand-made paper - all uneven and a bit wrinkled - is very compellingly tactile.  

However, this paper didn't have much character when looked at face-on.  The blandness of the plain white surface was really rather dull.  I don't think I will bother with this further for this project - and indeed, it isn't right to use plain, unused paper when I am focussing on re-cycling the  heaps of old paper from my former life.  

But I am tempted to play around with adding colour to the pulp, to sees whether I can make paper with a strong clear colour.  I have read , somewhere on the web, that this can be done using Procion MX cold water dyes - but at risk of dying everything in the house at the same time.  Another possibility is to add acrylic paint to the pulp - presumably before making the "soup" of pulp and water.  I will have a go on a good warm day when I can mess about outside.  

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Gallery visit: Arnolfini

Today I went to see the current shows at the Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol .  I wasn't terribly impressed.  Shilpa Gupta's exhibition, Someone Else,  consisted of 5 pieces, without much sense of a theme or connection between them.  The gallery's exhibition guide didn't help, being full of rather vacuous phrases which didn't make much sense, nor much relationship to the works on display.  I think the main thread was about space, and the space between things (and between people, or between ideas) but it didn't make much sense to me.

Of the five, I thought The Singing Cloud was the most interesting, an installation of 4,000 quite chunky microphones, bundled together into the shape of a large black cloud, with a sound feed of people, possibly children, talking.  However, I'm not sure that the notes help:  "Singing Cloud considers the psychological impact of today's highly mediated information landscape, be it in the individual or the nation state, where fear and suspicion are cultivated."  What was that?

The other work on show was To The River by Sophie Rickett, a 3-screen video installation with sound track, filmed among people who were waiting in the dark to watch the Severn Bore. The gallery guide palings the work.   This is a still from the film.

I thought the film was too long/slow,  although the lighting effects of filming in almost total darkness produced mysterious shadows and half-formed faces etc.  Alongside this there was an accompanying exhibition of the archive material which formed the background to the piece.  This was a mixture of old books an reports on the geographical phenomenon of the bore, and photos and comments form previous witnesses of the bore.  All nicely mounted and displayed as a coherent group.  I thought this was more interesting than the installation itself.  

Mark had suggested I look at this as a possibly idea for mounting and organising the experimental work for my final project piece.  I could see the connection, bt I'm not are my work would be so coherent brought together this way.

Cook's Camden

I visited the exhibition, Cook's Camden (gallery website link is here), at the Architecture Centre in Bristol.  It is a small exhibition, but very well designed and informative.  there was a large wall-chart showing the development of housing and town planning legislation since about 1750, which hd masses of information in it (and is going to be published in a more accessible and portable form in due course).  The main items were details of about a dozen separate but linked housing projects in the london borough of Camden built in the 1960s and early 1970s.

The housing schemes were innovative in several ways, including social and play space away form vehicle access points, and lots of balconies so people could have a sense of garden and outside private space, even when several floor up. The buildings were not high rise, generally only about 5 or 6 floors high, and ranked back so that there was as much light and privacy as possible.  Some of the schemes included shops.   One of them, the Brunswick Centre near Coram Fields and Tottenham Court Road, has been upgraded recently.  I was there a few months ago and was amazed at how chic it all seems now.
The exhibits included site plans and photographs, and a video piece with interviews - generally extremely posit still - with the present residents of one of the bigger housing schemes.

Making Paper Mache

As well as making my own paper from my old history essays and work papers, I have had a go at papier mache.  This has not been so easy, using old printer and photocopy white paper, as my long-ago efforts using newspapers.  I think this is mainly because the white A4 copier paper is fairly strong and rigid, and so even when it has been torn into strips or small pieces and soaked in paste, it is still relatively firm and rigid, and it doesn't want to blend easily.  I used commercial wall paper paste, quite diluted, as the paste medium, and used inflated balloons as the mold or form (and in one case, an upturned kitchen bowl with a shape a bit like a tall "Puritan" hat..  I have ended up with several small bowls, with rather strangely crinkled surfaces, as yet unpainted and unfinished.  I am not at all sure where this might lead.  

However, I have also been thinking about attempting something which is a cross between making paper and making papier mache - i.e. using damp pulp to form shapes which will be 3D but relatively flat, and which use pulp as a sculpting medium, rather thn as a semi-liquid pouring medium.  

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Deconstruction scultpure

Thinking more about deconstruction and my final project, I looked up the work of Mexican artist Damien Ortega who has done some recent installations where he has taken things to pieces and assembled the parts in a disaggregated, disconnected but orderly way.

The Institute of Contemporary Art Boston has a short description of his work on their website, thus:

Damián Ortega is known for taking things apart and putting them back together again

Born in 1967 in Mexico City, Ortega is one of the most prominent artists of the new Mexican generation. This exhibition, the first-ever survey of Ortega’s work, shows the arc of his artistic output with a range of sculpture, installation, video, and photography. 
In Ortega’s work, objects are never allowed to rest—they are pulled apart, suspended, or rearranged, calling attention to the dynamism of the world around us and the hidden poetry in the everyday. A former political cartoonist, Ortega brings a subtle, incisive wit to his surprising manipulations of familiar, humble materials—bricks, old tools, Coca-Cola bottles,  tortillas, and even a Volkswagen Beetle are assembled and reassembled in playful and imaginative ways.

"Cosmic Thing," 2002.

I also came across another current artist, Canadian Todd McLellan, (website here) who dismantles and 'explodes' smaller objects such as phones and typewriters.  Sometimes he photographs the results as neat catalogues of all the parts.  Sometimes he captures the sense of explosion in photographs showing the pieces scattering outwards.  In these different ways he references both Ortega and Parker's approaches.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Art I like: Jennifer Collier

 British artist Jennifer Collier makes objects out of paper, including domestic and office items like this typewriter,

and phone

and even a sewing machine.

What a lovely idea!

What to do with an old Phone book

This rather lovely way to use up old phone books was made by artist Kristiina Lahde, whose website here, and just seemed to me to be fun.  Simple idea, well made, every home should have one....

 I found the images on this Colossal blog

paper pulp and wire

Artist Gjertrud Hals, website link here, makes sculptures using wire, thread, paper pulp, flax, and other fibres.   I particularly like these heads, made from simple wire mesh frames, formed over plaster moulds, and then dated with layers of sprayed-on paper pulp.

Sculpture, series. Metal wire, paper pulp.
20 x 10, d 10 cm
Sculptures in wire, made onto a plaster mould of a young persons
face.  Image from her website, link above. 

The pulp must have been very thin, and using some good adhesive to make it adhere to the wire.  The technique is intriguing but the reslults are striking.  I wonder if I could even begin to replicate this method for some

Paper art

Rummaging around on the internet today looking at paper and paper pulp sculptures, I came across this blog PapierWespe (here is the link)  which is in German but the images mean it's not hard to follow roughly and identify names and artists.  Among several I was particularly struck by the work of Miriam Londono, link to her website is here.  All the images reproduced here come from her website.

Miriam Londono, who is from Colombia but now lives and works in the netherlands, works with paper pulp and hand-made paper to create wonderful constructions and sculptures. using script or not-writing and organic swirls and forms.

Nests21 cms x 30 cmsPaper2011Three pieces of 30x21x18 cm- The heads, consisting of hundreds of coloured-paper letters, are a metaphor for the possibilities human beings have to communicate and establish contact with the world and others. 

I really like this piece, one of several where Miriam Londono has created semi-transparent panels of text, made from paper pulp, which are then suspended, creating interesting shadows and see-through vistas which deepen the overall images.  Some are very large, but this one is relatively compact in scale.

Letter to my Father85 cms x 125 cmsPaper - Three pieces of 125x85cm -2005These handwritten letters express my desire to connect with the past, with my family and origins.

Trapped200 cms x 200 cmsPaper2008Installation at the Paper Museum in Capellades, Spain- with the names of 120 hostages by the Farc in Colombia-2008-These works are a reflection on the tragedy that hundreds of Colombians live. To name of the hostages is somehow remember them, to oppose to the barbarism and terror resulting in the FARC actions

Miriam London also uses her paper-pulp writing to create sheets which she assembles into books, like these.  

Memories65 cms x 40 cmsPaper2005

Book65 cms x 32 cmsPaper2011The structure of these books intend to trigger meanings in the mind: what makes a book? Is it the words or the pages, or both? Seen as a sieve of ideas, the books stop being page-by page compilations, to be transformed into fragile nets catching language’s essentials metaphors.

I think MIriam Londono's  work is a very interesting way of re-cycling and re-constructing paper and text into new forms, and this is highly relevant to my work towards my final project.  I think her method of using pulp to write in a continuous line also builds on my previous project, doing non-writing in continuous, sinuous lines.  I think this is an approach wroth experimenting with further.

The item on PapierWespe which caught my attention was some images of Miriam Londono's working method, writing with paper pulp and creating panels of text 

These reminded me of the printed and laser-cut panels we saw in Edinburgh last month (q.v. Edinburgh Day 3 blog post )