Garlands in the Mist
An exhibition by Mark Lander
with help from members of the North Canterbury community
27th February – 6th April 2016
‘Paper is just made from plant fibre’
Just a simple statement in casual conversation over 25 years ago, has led me on and incredible adventure with papermaking, researching, experimenting and inventing. Paper for drawings, paintings and printmaking, making large stage sets for dance companies, installations in art galleries, building and equipping projects internationally, and most recently making these Garlands for this exhibition in Oxford.
The history of Paper to me is fascinating, it was invented in China in 105 AD and was a State secret there for 600 years, the knowledge of papermaking eventually spread to Europe and around the world. The production of paper boomed leading to the invention of the printing press and the spread of literacy and knowledge.
The Paper here is made from New Zealand Flax (Phormium tenax) harvested in the traditional way, and Cotton rags. These are cut into one inch squares and pulped in a machine called a Hollander beater. Old sheets, candlewick bedspreads, jeans, these give the colours, white, yellow, orange, blue and pink. Blending the pulps gives all the tints and shades. Adding flax or Harakeke pulp to the mix makes the paper strong and crisp. The finest papers in this exhibition are pure flax, one of the strongest papers in the world, it has been tested to fold more than 4000 times!
I have used special moulds made from fine wire mesh folded and formed into the flower shapes, these are dipped in the pulp, and laid out in the sun to dry, thousands of them. The flower forms are popped out and the next batch is made. Then we make the Garlands, one of them is 7 metres high!
For the last six months we have had an open studio day on Tuesdays for people from the community to come and be part of this project, what fun we have had making all the flowers, having cups of tea and homemade scones and chatting around the vats.
I wanted this exhibition to commemorate the 5th anniversary of the 2011 Christchurch earthquakes. The Spring colours reflect the healing process and optimism of a new beginning for many of us personally, and especially for our wonderful city.