Jenna Lee ✿ Folds of memory


18 June 2019

Jenna Lee, Memorise, 2019, folded vellum, card and sugar paper, book-binding thread

Previously, we’ve shared a number of stories about the process of knotting as both a craft and social process. Jenna Lee’s Memorise series shows how the process of folding can have strong symbolic meaning. It begins with an Instagram challenge…

✿ Can you say how the idea of this work came about?

I had wanted to explore the theme of memory for quite some time. I have always had an incredible memory, often surprising my mum about things I remember about childhood. Personally, there are a few memories that are incredibly strong. Just before making this work one memory, in particular, played back in a dream. It just so happened that there is an Instagram bookbinding community challenge called #areyoubookenough and that month’s theme to explore was Memory. So a few things aligned to spur on making this work.

✿ Why did you choose this specific material?

Paper for me is a bit of an obsession, I tend to collect/hoard paper that I am drawn to. It’s usually more about texture and weight than colour, but this pale blue really drew me in. It has an “archival” quality I was wanting to explore in relation to memory. I use tracing paper a lot in my text-based works to transfer the words. However, I always keep the pieces after as there is something about the hazy transparency that I find so intriguing. Each of the papers possessed a quality that I wanted to link with the concept of memory and remembering.

✿ How did you choose the particular folds?

For this series of books I was experimenting with a “meditative” process, I focussed on the particular memory that replayed as a dream and then let the paper inform the folds. Each piece had subtle material differences with which ended up informing the fold much more than I had expected.

✿ How is the work displayed? Can visitors open the “books”?

As of now, nobody else has come into contact with the books. If the books ever get installed in a show I am really not sure about being able to open them. I think if I feel at the time that other people opening the books will add to the books meaning then I will. But for now I am happy to have only me handle them – the more I think about them, the more intimate and personal they are.


My name is Jenna Lee. I am a proud mixed race Larrakia, Wardaman and Karajarri woman whose contemporary art practice explores themes of identity/identification, label/labelling and the relationships between language and object. As a Queer, Mixed Race, Asian, Aboriginal Woman all of my work includes themes of feminism, gender, sexuality, race, Aboriginality and the constant and exhausting process of identifying in a society that demands it (read more).

You can also hear Jenna Lee talking about her process of papermaking on ABC Radio National Awaye.

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