Pamela See introduces our collection of stories about paper. Enjoy how this ephemeral and ubiquitous substance not only carries information but can also form objects of beauty and meaning in itself.
“Paper seems an unlikely invention – breaking wood or fabric down into its cellulose fibers, diluting them with water, and passing the resulting liquid over a screen so that it randomly weaves and forms a sheet is not an idea that would logically come to mind, especially in an age when no one knew what cellulose was.”
Mark Kurlansky Paper: Paging Through History.
In this feature of the Garden of Stories, artists and academics from across the world provide accounts of how the material and its methods of making are presently being engaged.
Rushdi Anwar eloquently encapsulates the appeal of his medium by writing, “handmade paper reveals the touch of the time of its making”. By layering mulberry pulp onto photographic prints in the Thai Kada Saa tradition, he creates a membrane-like quality that emphasizes the vulnerability of the subjects depicted.
By contrast, Gary Warner explores the exploits of Horst Kiechle. His peculiar paper sculptures reflect an amalgamation of “digital 3d modelling, self-written computer code… and meticulous making by hand”. Not unlike origami, the folds in these forms serve to structurally fortify and hold memories.
Equally robust is a selection of articles that directly harken back to ancient craft practices. The subjects include Jiseung by Eun Hye Kim and my jianzhi.
Whereas some authors refer to the contested origins of the substrate, others project a pathway the substance may provide to a more sustainable future. All of the stories speak to the versatility and viability of paper, its quality as a receptacle of ethos, pathos and logos, and the capacity it affords creatives to circulate them.
Pamela See is a Garland perennial: Pamela See ✿ A Renaissance woman
This feature is commemorated every 1 July, which marks the date in 751AD when Arab and Chinese forces fought over control of the Silk Road. The Chinese soldiers captured by Arabs brought the secret of papermaking to the Islamic world, and beyond.
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