Arriving back in Australia after three months travelling, collecting inspiration and creating art works; I am trying to maintain my momentum. Each day I make a small artwork on a shipping tag, as a visual journal which helps me document the passing of days. So far 24 days have gone by as I practice my R’s - rest, recuperation and remembrance, the last referring to remembering how to play, how to take risks and to allow the materials I have to hand to tell their story.
The fourth R is probably the most important – Reflection. As I plan for the future it is necessary to reflect on the past. What I’ve enjoyed doing, what can be explored further. Two collaborative projects I completed during the past twelve months were a wearable art creation and a series of small artist books, both using handmade papers.
Working with Northern Rivers textile artist Anne Leon, we submitted our entry concept of a dress referencing the 2017 flood for the Paper on Skin exhibition in Burnie, Tasmania. Using my handmade papers and taking as inspiration the debris left after the flood, Anne then created a Flood Frock of cascading papers which was exhibited on the runway in June this year. While our entry didn’t win, it attracted much attention for the artistic interpretation of a major climatic event which affected both of us personally after our art studios were flooded.
The other project was a series of small artist books which I made with Latvian paper artist Ilze Dilane. These started from each of us creating paper from our personal clothing and ended up becoming stories of interconnection, finding commonality despite being in different parts of the world. Blue papers made from Ilze’s denim jeans and orange papers made from my cotton shirt became small books we sent backwards and forwards between two continents, embellishing them with stitching, stamps and collages. They looked a little like large passports filled with maps and the flight paths between our two homes. Together we presented this project at the IAPMA conference Paper: Conscience and Consciousness, in Sofia, Bulgaria in May, quoting from our email correspondence over the nine months of their co-creation.
These collaborative projects were not only fun to do but also allowed for an exploration of social issues from personal viewpoints. Both are things I would like to do again. But for now I am just playing, working with the materials I have, exploring techniques such as rusting, momigami ( repetitively scrunching paper until it becomes soft and resilient) and monoprinting with found objects.
These experiments are preparations for another artist residency, this time a little closer to home near Uluru, Central Australia. In April 2019, I will travel to Curtain Springs paper studio to make paper from native Australian bush grasses. It will be exciting to discover more about plant fibres from paper artist Amee Porter whose fashion creations won accolades at the Fremantle Eco Fashion Week Australia in November. I’m looking forward to working with another textile artist during the residency, hopefully we will bounce ideas off each other and be inspired by the red sands and spinifex grasses of inland Australia. Until then I will continue to play and experiment, adventuring with paper.