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Redefining Paper: Discovering the Potential of White Paper

Published 7 years ago

A creative process often starts with a white piece of paper, sketched on and discarded. But, what happens when you ask a group of artists to make white paper the beginning, middle and end of a creative project? Redefining Paper, initiated by James Cropper Paper, challenged eight creatives to separately explore the potential of white paper, with surprising results.

In all, the white paper has remained pure, no more so than the minimalist, ‘unroll and hang’, customisable wall clock from Leeds-based duo, Rosanna and Clint, its simplicity being a willing and brilliant surrender to the understated grandeur of the material itself. The limits of the paper are pushed in the opposite direction by Manchester contemporary jeweller, Megan Ocheduszko, whose tight spinning of a length of paper forms a wearable necklace, alongside robust, durable rings. The responses say as much about the creative mind’s response to a stark, blank canvas, as it does about the resilience and versatility of the material at hand.

Supplied with a limited amount of Porcelain, a high-quality, smooth white paper made from virgin pulp by the British master papermakers, the hand-picked creatives were given freedom to explore its material properties. The only rules were to resist colouring the paper with dyes and avoid degrading it, such as by soaking in liquid. By early-summer this year, the creatives had returned with the results, showing that the simplest ideas can do most justice to the simplest of materials.

Manchester’s rising architectural protégé, James Donegan brings digital brilliance and a steady hand with his modular sculpture of hundreds of separate, unglued components. A contemporary paper pendant lampshade from London’s Laura Nelson uses incisions more often found in metal work to subtly alter the paper in unforeseen ways. From Daniel Reed’s ethereal soundscape to Daniel Hoolahan’s laboriously cut, layered vase made from over 400 individual paper rings to Thomas Mills’ ceiling sculpture and James Condon’s mesmerising animation, the ideas and executions have demonstrated that there remains much inspiration to be found in white paper.

Chris Brown, Commercial Director for James Cropper Paper, says: “We overlook the versatility of white paper at our peril; it’s the ultimate blank canvas. In engaging with creative collaborators to work with one of our most versatile and immaculate papers, Porcelain, our intention was to prove that you can achieve previously unthinkable results with something so often taken for granted. The results speak for themselves, summing up our collective appreciation for the potential of an agile, creative mind and a simple sheet of white paper.”

Redefining Paper has been initiated as part of James Cropper Paper’s ongoing support for leading creative talent, which has included Steve Messam’s PaperBridge, a bridge made entirely of paper spanning a Lake District river earlier in 2015, and the internationally-renowned Gerald Exhibition at NYC x Design in 2012. Each of the creatives will be in line for selection as a standout ‘Chairman’s Choice’ piece by James Cropper’s sixth generation Chairman, Mark Cropper, and considered for further collaborations with the British manufacturer.

Listen to Audire by Daniel Reed here: https://soundcloud.com/daniel-reed-33/audire

Watch Beauty Over Time by James Condon here: https://vimeo.com/134393873

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Helix by James Donegan

Helix by James Donegan

James says: “The process of making paper involves taking a highly structured, organic material and reducing it to a two dimensional blank space upon which one can easily express one’s ideas. The project realises this complexity and attempts to return the structural properties of the material from which it was derived. Through the uses of parametric design and digital manufacturing techniques the structure has been created without the use of any other material, fixings or adhesives.”

Kairos by Rosanna and Clint

Kairos by Rosanna and Clint

Rosanna says: “Our initial interpretation of the brief was the importance for the paper’s original characteristics to remain in the finished piece, aiming to do only what was necessary to transform the single sheet of paper. After some exploration and experimentation we liked the idea of creating a timepiece. The opportunity to create an object with such functional purpose is something that excites us in the studio.”

Porcelain Vase by Daniel Hoolahan

Porcelain Vase by Daniel Hoolahan

Dan says: “I immediately wanted my piece to reflect the name of the paper range, Porcelain. Porcelain being commonly associated with ceramics such as bowls and vases it felt natural to play on this theme. Using a laser cutter, my sheet of paper was cut into rings of varying sizes. 449 of these rings, including closed pieces for the base, were then glued together in no particular order to create a structure.”

A ring, part of Paper Collection by Megan Ocheduszko

A ring, part of Paper Collection by Megan Ocheduszko

Megan says: “My practice mainly focuses on tactility and our sense of touch so my aim was to create something with tactile qualities from the paper. My first goal was to manipulate the paper so that it was durable (as jewellery is something that is handled quite a lot) and held its shape when held.”

Burneside Shade by Laura Nelson

Burneside Shade by Laura Nelson

Laura says: “The Burneside Shade exploits the durability and structural properties of the paper through three-dimensional design. I have chosen a lampshade, as it demonstrates structural properties of the paper and manipulates light in different ways through simple cutting and folding techniques. Two lampshades can be produced from one sheet of 640mm x 900mm paper.”

manta – motion – studies (two inversions) by Thomas Mills

manta - motion - studies (two inversions) by Thomas Mills

Thomas says: “This work is the direct result of a strict iterative design process. My aim was to immediately move away from folding, scoring or marking the paper – to try and find other areas of interest. Ultimately, I’ve done as little as possible to the actual paper. The simple placing of 4 holes in each piece allows the flat sheet to be placed under a specific tension and curvature, creating a controlled, rhythmic display. Thus, the paper can display its qualities and its capacity for 3D expression, unhindered.”

Audire, a documentary accompaniment to a Soundscape by Daniel Reed

Audire, a documentary accompaniment to a Soundscape by Daniel Reed

Daniel says: “Audire is an exploration of texture, sound, physical, digital, material and process with the aim to create something unexpected from a single sheet of paper. I took audio samples from the paper and created a unique soundscape, all the sound heard on the track was taken directly from the paper. I manipulated the paper by bending, scratching, tearing, folding, blowing, burning and dropping. The poster is typeset in my own typeface ‘IVORY’.”

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animation, architecture, art, craft, design, jewellery, paper, sculpture, soundscape
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