In my degree show project ‘CONNECTED’, I investigated the viability of material I use most often in my artistic practice: paper.
I tried to express the human interior landscape. In my works, I refer to the debates and works on identity, translation, new materialism, fictioning, and the idea of chance and transformation.
New materialism theory inspires me to work with paper as a dynamic matter in the constant process of interactivity, materialisation and becoming. On the one hand, paper as a material is very delicate and prone to destruction. On the other hand, it is durable and gives the never-ending possibilities of creating.
The experience of grief after my dad’s sudden death made me feel alone, isolated and emotionally separated from others. I have been trying to redefine my life, goals and values. It is a time for me when I think a lot about the cycle of life and death, which is reflected in my artistic practice.
The process of hand papermaking let me break the rectangle form of artwork and become a metaphor and manifestation of transience and the cyclical passing of both material and spiritual things. The new piece of paper is no more just a window into a world where I draw or paint and leave some marks. Instead, this work becomes more like an object or specimen by embodying the idea of change and how change manifests as time, transformation and rebirth. The irregular shapes of some of my pieces were supposed to reflect my inner attempt to open up to changes. Getting out of the borders was the process of finding and embracing lost, abandoned, or unmentioned aspects of myself and my connection with the resources available to me.
I deconstruct and reconstruct imagined landscapes and compositions made from my unfinished or qualified by me as unsuccessful prints from previous years of study. I did not let them disappear in the garbage can, like many of my works, for which I no longer saw the possibility of development.
The rustle of torn paper makes me remember my childhood when, at the end of the school year, I ripped out blank sheets of paper from school notebooks and stacked them in a box to sew them together and create my summer scrapbook. The moment when something ends and something begins; this moment of transition from one state to another and the contact with paper evokes mixed feelings of relief, satisfaction, nostalgia, and excitement.
The paper succumbs not only to the physical pressure of the hand but also soaks up emotions when I write my thoughts on it or leave traces of images I try to record. It is open to reception. It seems to have the therapeutic power of purifying and metamorphosing.
I find the process of papermaking very sensual and meditative at the same time. The physical engagement with the materiality of paper causes opening to the chance to let this piece of paper determine the composition for the future artwork, its shape, and structure.
Each act of immersing the sieve in the paper pulp water is the act of embracing the lack of control. I can’t precisely plan beforehand the way the bits of paper integrate with each other. The fragments of my lithography randomly come up on the surface of the emerging new sheet of paper. All these actions become a part of the story of this piece of paper.
I started to see in these rejected works an expression of my knowledge, skills, and sensitivity. These works symbolise all my ideas that have not developed, decayed, and been left to be lost or destroyed. But they were an integral part of the learning process and development of skills. I wanted to honour them and let them a chance to be part of my story and identity. I do not mark them as rubbish or failure anymore.
Everything I’ve done or will do is interconnected. Making my own sheet of paper, I thought about how my actions affect the world in ever-extending ripples. This process gave me a new perspective, which was a bridge in my thinking about being creative and responsible for my resources, methods and each work I’ve made.
You can find more detailed descriptions of my works on my Instagram page.
A landscape I don’t remember anymore
Initially, in my works, I wanted to capture the stories about travelling and experiencing Scottish land and culture, looking for ‘your’ place. I combined my memories, experience and mood with gestures while making the series of pulp paintings and collages.
In the first stage of the study, creating a screenprint, I usually worked within the confinements of surface that have very defined borders and edges. Though working within and against a framework was useful in stage 2 of the study, I found that these borders can restrict and inhibit free-flowing, intuitive compositions and mark-making. The papermaking process let me continue to develop this approach to this element of the composition.
Making paper, I became more interested in forms and experiences that had the potential to exist outside of the realm of my hand and decision-making. I enjoyed the possibility of constructing something that would come into being in one moment and then could it completely dissolve, of its volition.
The papermaking steps are both repetitive and chaotic as the stages are intertwined at different rates. There are moments when you have to act quickly to apply the pulp to the screen and then wait for the paper to dry. The material qualities of paper and all stages of making: the act of pouring, layering, and moving pulp on the mould reflect the quality of a moment, like an imprint of the particular day with all its shades and moods.
‘Magdalenki’ is a work in which various pieces of paper I made connect in a loose form: shapes and figures cut out of paper. Loosely attached to the wall and connected to a jute net. It is a work that can be expanded or minimized, or re-constructed. It is an assemblage in the process of its creation. The figures were inspired by the performance of my friends at the Van Gogh Alive exhibition in Edinburgh in June this year. Their performance was a spontaneous response to the place, music, light, moment and atmosphere. I have included an echo of this event in this work: unforced, unfinished, impermanent.
I love the idea that you can decide for yourself who’s who in the image. Who is the healer? Who needs guidance? Who is innocent? Who is the sinner?
Creating my sheets of paper, I thought that sometimes the creator, an artist or writer, is afraid of an empty sheet of paper, afraid of putting the first line, a sign, or writing the first sentence. Sometimes we don’t know where to start. The first line is always good. Only trying to connect this line with the others and composing it with the rest becomes a challenge. An empty piece of paper is both an invitation to fill it and a blockade from getting involved in creating. Although my sheets of paper are not written yet, I know they are not empty. These were once my works that I destroyed to get new material to create. It is not about a piece of paper but about the artist and his infinite potential to start all over again.
HANDMADE PAPER COLLAGES
PAPER SCULPTURE FORMS
Through the papermaking process, material and tangible paper pulp succumb to immaterial processes such as weather, gravity, water flow, and physical motions. I had let my pulp dry on the mesh loosely left on the grass in my garden till it dried, or I hung the mesh with pulp pressed to it on the wall to get the serpentine shapes. I wanted to create a piece where the materiality of paper is in constant dialogue with the materiality of water, the wind, and the sunshine.