Workshop – Angela Liddy Joomchi (paper felting)
This one day workshop was run by Primrose Paper Arts (link). I’m not a member of the group, but they were very welcoming and it was an enjoyable day.
Tutor Angela Liddy introduced us to Joomchi, a traditional Korean technique in which layers of paper are fused or “felted” together to create strong, textured, flexible material that can be stitched, painted, embellished, used in clothing, sculpture, – the list goes on.On the right is my first attempt, getting the basic technique and looking at colour layering.
The technique itself involves adding water while layering the paper, then manipulating by hand to break down fibres and encourage bonding of the layers. It feels reminiscent of felting with wool, with a few key adjustments. The actual bond formed is different as well, without the major entanglement of fibres and shrinkage that you get with wool felt. My impression is that any shrinkage in Joomchi is caused by the wrinkling texture created.
In this first piece folds used during the manipulation process have left a grid impression on the finished sample. A rookie error, but given my current grid explorations it could turn out to be a happy accident to be explored further.Traditionally 15 or more layers of paper may be used if creating material suitable for warm clothing. In contrast, in my second sample I aimed for something light and fragile in appearance. This sample has two sheet of paper, aubergine and red, cut to leave areas with gaps or just 1 layer. A single layer woven effect I attempted in the centre didn’t work out, but adds to the fragile, tentative effect. The backlit view is particularly effective. The piece is reasonably firm, but I could tear it fairly easily.
The paper used for this is important, but is described in multiple ways. It was sold by the art shop as “mulberry silk paper”, 100% mulberry tree fibres, 25 gsm. We were advised if we couldn’t get this to buy “kozo paper with long fibres showing”. On checking back at home I confirmed it is the same type and weight of paper as we used in Lissa de Sailles basketry workshop earlier in the year (19-March-2016), where it was described as hanji paper. A Korean travel website describes hanji paper as “the paper of Korea”, the main material being the fibrous skin of the mulberry. Claire, also at the workshop (her post), has described the paper as unryu, tissue style mulberry paper that often includes strands of Kozo fibre, mainly made in Thailand. Looking up “kozo” I find it is Broussonetia papyrifera, paper mulberry tree.So made of kozo / mulberry, tissue / 25 gsm, inclusions. I suspect unryu is the precise term, hanji more generic, kozo and mulberry different languages for the fibre source, and “silk” a total misuse. On the right is a little comparison I made, the original paper on the left, a wetted and manipulated piece on the right. The inclusions seem to provide some stability, and you can get some lovely lacey effects – more than shown here where there were no supporting layers (it can easily tear or drift apart when wet). I shaped my final sample, three full layers and some decorative pieces, over a mold while drying. The resulting vessel is very light but quite tough and holding its shape well. It was the sculptural potential which attracted me to this workshop. I’m thinking of molding a very light paper around plaster vessels, looking perhaps like a discarded skin when displayed together, a contrast in solidity.
Exhibition – Basketry NSW Fibre Stories
Primrose Park is home to a number of groups in addition to Primrose Paper Arts, including Basketry NSW. During a break from Joomchi I visited their current exhibition, Fibre Stories.
Brenda Livermore tells a story of the materials seen on walks, the collecting, inspiration, ideas that can be found in daily life for those looking. Brenda was at the Joomchi workshop, and also in Ruth Hadlow’s class earlier this year (25-Feb-2016) (also the full week class I missed 😦 ). I like the way she’s made the materials the stars of this piece.
That respect of materials, the sense of artists highly alert to the world around them, always looking for possibilities, was common in the exhibition. My selection of photographs here is more based on lighting and placement that assisted my tablet camera.Nicole Robin’s main interest in this work was to use local fibres with a technique taught by a recent visiting US-based tutor, Mary Hettmansperger. This random weave was attempting new, sculptural ways with the materials, which included star jasmine, jacaranda, Dracaena draco, fabric, and Bangalow palm spathe.
The materials express their strong individuality. Given my own recent MMT work I’m very attracted to both the sculptural and the exploratory nature of the work.The provided description of this piece by Lanny MacKenzie made me smile – “Made from recycled telephone & fridge cabling, using twining & Neolithic weaves.” The work is inspired by a climb up to Tanah Lot in Bali, and the mud encountered.
The eccentric shape and the uneven weave filtering the light create an animated work, almost dancing on its plinth.In terms of materials this reminded me of the little bowl I made after a short workshop with Aaron Broad at AGNSW (15-Aug-2013). Its eccentric shape brings to mind some of the MMT samples, p5-10 and p5-11 (14-Feb-2016). An asymmetrical shape in possibly more traditional materials was this work by Flora Friedmann. It is made from dyed coral pea vine and Bangalow palm leaf sheath. It was quickly made, responding to the materials and exploring techniques. To me there is an energy, a tension, in the vessel. It looks controlled but wayward.
The base appears to be the grid of plain weave, carried on into open twining. Light bulbs flashing here – is there something I can use for my own grid experiments?On one wall were a series of works made by members of Basketry NSW at a recent Wild Animals workshop taught by Bryant Holsenbeck. No individual names were given, so that’s the extent of attribution I can make.
I came away feeling that basketry is in my future – and a little bit in my past. Previously I’ve been concerned about wrist strength required and the natural materials which have never attracted me for my own work. That now seems a little narrow-minded and worth testing.
http://www.frasertaylor.com/ and http://three-walls.org/exhibition/fraser-taylor-orchiddirge/
Fraser Taylor’s work has struck a chord with me, especially in his Orchid/Dirge installation at Threewalls. There is repetition, smaller pieces building up into a larger work; the importance of interiority and exteriority; the sculptural installation; cutting across media and disciplines; the fragility and an engagement with uncertainty; the foundation in drawing and exciting mark-making; experiment and improvisation; a sense of depth in space and time. It’s not-quite familiar and not-quite comfortable. It’s complex and sensual and delicate and ruptured.
“Landscape and body act as metaphors, their meanings located somewhere in the interstices between figuration and abstraction”. That’s an area I’d love to be exploring.
I’m hoping to use some ideas from this in drawing and making exercises soon.
http://www.guerrero-macia.com/, https://www.academia.edu/25680742/Diana_Guerrero-Maci%C3%A1s_Hand-Sewn_Hard_Edges_2012_, http://three-walls.org/exhibition/diana-guerrero-macia-the-uncertainty-of-signs/
I mentioned this artist briefly last week. Her work challenges distinctions and labels of genre and process. It is incredibly dense in terms of historical references – art, literary and social history. The materiality of the work is important, it uses craft as a way of thinking. The work is radical and steeped in history.
Possibly this is the first time I’ve read of the use of textile techniques “as a formal strategy”, creating texture and depth in a very deliberate artistic approach. I’m also appreciating more and more the ability of textile to provide an abstract vocabulary while also being incredibly rich in cultural meaning.
There are words and phrases, creating form as well as giving meaning. I’ve been thinking about about the use of text – some current reading happening which I’ll be able to write about in a week or two. At the moment I’m attracted by the idea of not-text. Something familiar but foreign that catches the threads of your mind. Jenni Sorkin has written of Guerrero-Maciá’s works “they stand on the precipice of the declarative, but in the end, are devoid of language.”
Reading: Edmund De Waal The white road: a pilgrimage of sorts
This was a wonderful read – warm, personal, full of information, insights and non sequiturs. It rummages and circles through history, making friends and confidants of “witnesses” in the story of porcelain. At one stage I was reading furiously – what happens next? who will make the breakthrough? the risks, the failures – just 240 years ago. De Waal quotes philosophers and poets, scientists and artists. He wonders, explains, discovers, flounders.
Some points and phrases that caught my eye:
* “… process is not be be skated over. The manner of what we make defines us.”
* Interiority as an idea – the inner nature of the thing.
* De Waal writes of his own work, the making, but also exhibitions, collections. Complex rhythms, repetition. Over the course of the book he builds up his own collection, installation, of white objects. After my MMT final work I want to try again.
* the structure, the flight, of music and art and making.
* the humanity of working notes and failed experiments, broken shards.
* shadows. An installation looked “beautiful in the shadows… Beautiful because you cannot see them in their entirety, pinned down and accessible. … shadows push profiles away. You can gain the shape of an idea by losing its particulars.”
* “Thinking is through the hands as well as the head.”
* Above all the depth and layering of research and meaning. It takes longer than expected or wanted, takes him to unexpected places and ideas. The curiosity, and questioning, and building up of a framework of knowledge and understanding, a platform to jump from.