Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Paper Art - IAPMA COngress 2018 ...

'Paper art is a modern art bred by traditions and crafts related to paper and, as the newest area in contemporary art, it blends traditions and innovations, experiments and high achievements. It challenges world authors to create a new language of expression and new technologies that enrich contemporary art.'

Sofia Paper Art Fest

Several years ago during one of my many visits to Korea I was asked if I was a member of IAPMA.I had no idea what they were talking about and as such, I almost brushed it aside until one day I decided to do some research to find  out more about this paper association.  IAPMA stands for the International Association of Hand Paper Makers and Paper Artists and when checking out the website  I was intrigued by the  work that was done  by it's members.
In a nutshell this association is an International Community of paper artists who share a common love of making and working with paper.

Two years ago now, not long after joining IAPMA, I was fortunate enough to join my first  Paper Tour in France where we spent 10 days travelling around the French countryside visiting old Paper mills and seeing demonstrations of how paper use to be made using traditional Western methods, exploring UNESCO World Heritage sites and  visiting several French Artists' studios.  It was an amazing experience and one that allowed me to gain  a wealth of knowledge about paper and also just as importantly, where new friendships of like minded  artists were formed. 

This year was the biannual IAPMA Congress - 'Paper : Conscience and Consciousness' and it was to be held in Sofia, Bulgaria so with an already planned visit to Europe, I was  able to attend.   I signed up as a participant and went along ready to be immersed in more paper culture. The exhibitions I attended were way beyond my expectations in terms of scale, diversity and standards. Many of the Congress participants had their creative work on display and  I must admit that I was blown away by what I saw. To be immersed in a community of artists at this level was extremely humbling.

'Paper Obligato' (Collage of handmade banana paper, screen printed and stitched) 2017 - Heather Mathews, AUSTRALIA

'Dinner is served' (used tea bags), 2017 - Renate Schweizer, GERMANY

'Sunyata' (Platinum Palladium Print on Obara Washi Paper) 2017 - Reji Aoyama, JAPAN

The Girl of Healing Messages' (xerox transfer, paper thread crochetted and integrated to a joomchi treatment on washi), 2017 - Carolina Larrea, CHILE

'Earth Series III' (paper pulp, banana fibre), 2016 - Eliana Anghinah, BRAZIL

The Congress enabled me to reignite  friendships with  people I'd met on the Paper Tour in France and during meal breaks and discussion sessions I also made many new friends.  Everyone was so welcoming and I received numerous  invites to visit their homes and studios, not only in Europe but all over the world. I took some of them up on their offers during our trip around Europe and those time  turned out to be very special as it cemented our friendships even further and gave me a lot of inspiration for the future on my creative journey.

I've come back to Australia with my head  spinning with ideas of what I'd like to do as far as experimenting with paper in different ways and diversifying my style of work with the traditional Hanji paper I so enjoy. 

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

The 'Twists and turns' of creating .....

As much as we like to think we know what the future is going to hold for us and the creative directions we wish to take, it doesn't always turn out the way we'd like it too. Part of being creative is being open to taking new directions and being inspired by some unexpected things.  

Having moved into our little 1860s cottage 8 months ago now we've been  busy doing renovations to it and it has, for the majority of the time, been all absorbing and putting my Hanji work on hold.  The renovations are coming on nicely with many rooms now having been painted, woodwork restored, fireplaces repaired and a new kitchen installed. I have a lovely "Barn' where I can keep my Hanji  pieces, desk and a small work space but it's considerably smaller  than I've had in the past and  not big enough for having classes.  

My plan is for a much bigger Hanji studio to be built in a double garage at the end of our yard  latter this year and this will then accommodate a larger work space for myself and space for classes, storage of items and inspirational pieces.

I do miss my Hanji creating, teaching and students but for now I have to accept that they need to wait.
My first lead lighting piece
In the meantime I've taken up lead lighting as it takes up less space and I'm putting those skills to good use in the cottage. For my first piece I've been making a small window to be installed in my kitchen above the sink.  It's been an interesting process for me to go back to learning a new creative skill and realizing the frustrations involved in being a student once again as I've tried to get things to go perfectly. The lesson I've been reminded of is that when we strive for perfection,this only comes with experience. I'm not all that pleased with it when I look closely at my glass panel but when I stand back it's not too bad, and I have to remind myself that it's my first piece of lead lighting and we're always our harshest critics.

I'm looking forward to honing my skills as I do have plans for more windows to be made in the future.  I've really enjoyed this new medium of creativity where I've  been able to design, cut, and joined together glass instead of cardboard and paper and  realizing that the glass panel has a practically that many other art forms don't always achieve.

Not quite finished but testing it in the window.

Lead lighting is already making me look at ways in which  I'll be able to use this new found skill in my Hanji work in the future. It's teaching me to become a new student  going through the processes of basic learning, experiencing the frustrations of not achieving immediately whilst learning new skills and  in the long run, it should make me a better teacher.

The 'twists and turns' are taking bits of one art form and incorporating them into another art form until we end up with something that's unique to yourself and your experiences.

Isn't this what creativity is all about?

Thursday, January 4, 2018

I'm back ......

I'm back .......... Merry Christmas and a Happy 2018 to you all. 

I've taken a longer than expected break from doing Hanji and spent 2017 involved in family and household commitments but am now raring to get back into being creative once again and am committed to updating my blog more regularly this year. Last year  my main Hanji event was an exhibition called 'Dissolve' in Sydney at the Korean Cultural Centre where I was asked to take part in an exhibition along with 4 other Australian artists who have been influencd by Korean Culture.  (I'll write more about that in other post).

In the meantime keep checking back for more of my inspirations and creations for 2018 ....

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Hanji Filming Part 6 ....... Suji Kim

 Transformation, creation and longevity ......

Suji Kim
Suji Kim a beautiful, young Korean is a 'Linking Traditional Artist' who embodies a new generation of Koreans who are working with their age old traditions and bringing pieces of Hanji art into the 21st century.

Her background is in fine arts and her interest is in the symbolism of folk paintings which she reproduces onto Hanji

Traditional Korean folk paintings portrayed the simple lives of everyday people  and were far from sophisticated and yet the characters, animals, birds, flowers, nature and  seasons all had symbolic meanings. When adored on screens and as paintings on walls they created pleasant surroundings with constant reminders to their traditions and values. Korean Folk Art is a dying art form because the majority of modern Koreans, as is true all over the world, would rather have minimalist designs adoring their homes.

Suji Kim's interpretations of those paintings onto Hanji paper has won her accolades  and as a 30 something year old she is about to be recognized and awarded as the youngest Hanji Artist in Korea for her outstanding work and contributions to keeping Folk Art paintings alive.  She conducts art classes and has some very talented students that I was able to meet up with during my time in her studio.

Folk painting

She also makes both 2D and 3D Hanji pieces using traditional methods and  incorporates Jiseung, the art of twisting and weaving Hanji paper, using it to make objects, or as an embellishment on her pieces.
Painting on Hanji
Hanji using Jiseung techniques

During filming I met up with her at the Gahoe Museum in the Insadong district. Here she explained to me the symbolism and meanings behind some of the paintings on show and  we met up later in the week to work collaboratively on a piece of Hanji art that was to symbolize my journey around Korea during the filming of the documentary.

Autumn colour inspirations
Dyed papers - drawings by Suji Kim

Working on a 2D project was very different  and one that I found to be  quite challenging as I haven't done much work in this field and I didn't know what materials, tools and supplies were going to be available to me on the day.  It was all very daunting to say the least but I put my faith in the filming team that they would deliver what was needed when the time came, and they certainly did.

I'm use to working alone on my projects and I don't normally have a strict time frame but working alongside Suji Kim was a delight and consequently we thoroughly enjoyed the day together, chatting, laughing and exchanging our Hanji techniques. She even brought along some home made lamingtons, an Australian sweet, for us to share during our session of creativity and collaborationIt was the last thing I was expecting and I was delighted at her thoughtfulness.


The art piece was to be a textured leaf that symbolized the season in and it was to be divided into segments representing a snapshot of different parts of my journey. From this idea made the leaf  and placed it onto dyed hanji paper with the outline and various segments divided up by pieces of Jiseung, which the whole film crew had a hand in making.  

Jin Hee Lim( Director/ Writer) and Yoo Jun Jae(Producer)

Art piece
For the background the colours were carefully chosen to be representative of two different thought processes.   All the papers used were those that I'd made on my journey and they'd been carefully dyed using herbs and bark
Firstly, we used  a deep mustard on the left representing the earth that's turn to gold during Autumn, a mottled yellow and blue in the centre representing  the changing of the seasons and a plain blue on the right to represent the sky.

Secondly, the colours represent Korea and Australia and the mottled centre paper indicates the collaboration of Korean and Australian ideas and techniques which all come together as a backdrop to the leaf.

I wanted to incorporate Korean traditional folk paintings  as well and this is where help from Suji Kim  and her beautifully detailed artwork became an integral part of this project as they merged beautifully with the organic sheets of handmade and hand dyed Hanji. 

I spoke to her about what I wanted and she quickly drew and painted some stunning symbols  to add to this creative endeavor.

Persimmons - transformation
On my journey I saw many persimmons,  or  “gam”, and this fruit is a Buddhist symbol of transformation. Before the persimmon is ripe, it’s green and very bitter. But, it changes its color to a vibrant orange and is very sweet when ripe. It is representative of the autumn season which runs from Sept. to early Dec. and they're plentiful during "Chucheok" Korean Ancestral thanks giving and harvest festivals. 

During my journey I was  taken to the Cheongdo Persimmon Wine Tunnel where an old disused train tunnel of about 1 km in length is now being used to produce and distribute Persimmon Wine. This is the first wine production of its kind in Korea and it's exported to countries all around the region and the world. 

I spent a very pleasant visit meeting the Managing Director of the Wine tunnel, Kap-Soo-Lee who showed me how they were using the persimmons to make this wine.  I must admit I don't think it'll replace my grape wine drinking but it is certainly different and definitely innovative and the taste obviously appeals to quite a wide audience. 

Maybe it's an acquired taste.

Water lilies - creation

Another thing that I loved about the Korean countryside, and wanted to incorporate into this project, were the beautiful water lilies(lotus) in the large ponds. Some of the leaves were turning up and changing colours which contrasted against the beautiful, almost perfect looking flowers.

The lotus flower symbolizes creation, birth, livability and reproduction and therefore it's one of the most  important symbols in both Korean culture and its traditional religions. 

In both Confucianism and Buddhism the lotus flower is seen as a symbol of honest poverty and virtue associated with an aloofness. Poverty and virtue come from the fact that lotus flowers grow in muddy and dirty waters and yet it still has such beauty. It makes no pretense of being better than it is and yet it's naturally beautiful.

Turtle - longevity

Finally there was the turtle which stood proudly looking across the pond at the traditional Korean home. In Korean symbolism  the dragon was considered the ruler of all animals but the turtle ruled over the insects and because turtles live longer than other animals, they symbolize longevity.  

The flat underside of the turtle represents the earth whilst the top represents the heaven. It is believed to unite heaven and earth. Turtle images often form the base of steles or monuments to famous people, especially Buddhism monks.

The turtle is widely used throughout China, Japan and Korea as a symbol of good fortune and longevity and a positive omen that will bring 10,000 years of happiness.  

I feel that this had to be an included symbol to round off this project.

Transformation, creation and longevity is what my journey and this collaborative piece is all about.  

This journey has altered my perceptions of what Hanji Art is and it's created many new and exciting ideas of what I want to achieve in the future. It's certainly transformed my thinking about my art on so many different levels through exposure during the filming of this documentary to a wide variety of  artists and places as well as giving me the opportunity to exchange knowledge at a practically, creative level. Through experiencing the work of Jang Ji Bang (Hanji paper maker), Jeong Hyun Ja (Natural dyeing expert), Jeong Yu Suk (Boudoir crafts), Young Dam (Hanji paper maker and artist) and Suji Kim I was able to put all those ideas together and produce a piece of 2D Hanji art through my new and shared knowledge. This experience and its influence will stay with me for many years to come. I'm not sure if it'll be 10,000 years but the representation is one that it'll last a lifetime.

It's an important piece that not only incorporates my journey and the Korean traditional values through symbolism but also the ability for two cultures to be able to truly appreciate, work with  and value one another through their creative spirits.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Merry Christmas and a Happy Hanji New Year ....

Well where has the year gone!!


I'd just like to wish you all a wonderfully blessed Christmas with your family and friends and a Happy and fabulous Hanji New Year in 2017.  At the beginning of this year I couldn't have dreamt that I would have had such a fabulous year of creating and spreading the word about my Hanji passion to others.

Sadly one of my dear hanji students, Necia Magain, passed away this year from an aggresive form of Cancer  but her spirit and love for all things paper continues to inspire me to make the most of every day that I have as life is so fragile and indeterminate.

Thank you  one and all for your continuing support  by your kind comments, as well as following my blog and Facebook page and I hope I've inspired you just a little to continue your creative passions whatever they may be.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

ArTravel(Ep.9) Hanji, The Palette of Korea's Colors – Jan Coveney _ Full...

My documentary  on  Hanji has now been aired in Korea on Arirang TV, an English broadcasting channel, and here it is for you to view. 

It was the most  amazing experience and one that I'll never forget.  I met so many wonderful people who will form a large part of my Korean Hanji experiences.

I have so many new ideas to work on now that my head is literally spinning with new creative thoughts but with Christmas looming I'm going to have to put them aside for a few more weeks and focus on the family.

My Hanji book is the next area that I intend working on more intently in the New Year and with my new found knowledge of Hanji paper, dyes and construction techniques, I have so much more to add.

So grab a cuppa, sit back and share my recent Hanji journey with me .......

Monday, November 21, 2016

Hanji Filming part 5 ..... Young Dam Museum

My twin sister, a Buddhist nun ………
My twin
Young Dam when she was younger
One of the many highlights of my journey was a visit to the Youngdam Hanji Museum to meet the director Young Dam, a Buddhist Nun who's spent decades making Hanji paper and doing 2D and 3 D Hanji art. 

I was impressed that she’d done her research about me before I arrived and knew what work I’d  want to see on this visit but what surprised me the most was that she realized we were the same age and decided that because we both love Hanji and have similar interests we must be ‘Hanji twins’.

At first I was a little apprehensive to meet her as my image of a Buddhist nun was of a person who was quiet, genteel and almost ethereal, who obediently went about her daily rituals, never questioning, demanding nor being confronting.  I’m not saying any of those traits are undesirable; in fact I admire them and those that have the willpower to be devotionally serene and obedient but I was surprised when this jovial lady came out to greet us and starting ordering her female helpers around to get us drinks and snacks.  The ladies soon scurried around and ushered us into a large, somewhat bare looking room with comfortable IKEA chairs set up for us to sit on.  Shoes were taken off at the door in true Asian style and we positioned ourselves in the chairs and Young Dam sat herself down on the floor in front of us.  

Being a wonderful host
She was immediately engaging, telling funny stories and making us feel at home as well as being very interested in hearing from me about my Hanji and where I was on my journey. She wanted to know what inspired me to work with Hanji, especially from outside of Korea, and how I kept going with my passion on a daily basis.

When it was time to leave her home I was having trouble putting my shoes back on and Young Dam quietly bent down and put them on for me. I felt so humbled by this lovely lady.

We then moved to her Museum, a testament to all the work she’s been doing with Hanji.

Everything in there she's made herself. She began at an early age growing mulberry trees, stripping the bark, making the pulp and making her own papers.  The Museum had two large cabinets full of her paper  and I was totally awestruck at the amount she’d made and what she'd done with the papers over the last 40 years or so.  I felt very overwhelmed by her achievements, especially when compared to mine. 

She was so full of enthusiasm to show and tell me things that she got straight into it on entering the Museum which I was delighted with but, it created a lot of frustration for the filming crew as they tried to capture scenes which they weren’t quite ready for. We took lots of takes, as she was determined that this visit was all about sharing her passion with me in the short time that we had available and not necessarily one for making a documentary.

Papers were quickly whisked out of her neatly stacked piles and my lap was inundated with beautiful papers which enabled me to see the great range she had made from the finest see through sheets with a wonderful sheen on them (indicates that wholly organic methods were used in their production) to marbled papers that looked like leather right through to quite thick sheets used for the coverings of handmade books. I was particularly pleased to see the marbled papers as I’ve only every seen them once before and my source has now dried up so to know she has some was very exciting. 

Which one shall I choose?

It doesn’t take much for me to get excited when it comes to beautiful papers as I can then dream of what I can make out of them!!

3D hanji art by Young Dam
We moved on to her 3 D Hanji art and the details were amazing.  She’d used fine pieces of Jiseung (string made out of paper) to make designs on her pieces and most of them were in the earthy colours, which I personally prefer rather than bright colours. 

Her 2 D art was also great to see, as she’d experimented with different designs when making her papers then added pieces to them as well. I feel very inspired to try more of this type of artwork.

2D Hanji art by Young Dam
Over on the side was a full set of Hanji dolls that she’d made depicting a country scene with children and adults, some with ailments and others flushed with colour and over to the side was a woman mixing up some herbs for the sick.  I’ve seen quite a few of these before but Young Dam’s were beautifully made with fine features and each with a very realistic composure.
Hanji dolls

We bonded very quickly and I could have spent days chatting with her about her work as I felt a great connection with her passion for Hanji as well as her as a person.

Young Dam's Buddhist temple
 Next we headed up to her temple to see where she spends a lot of her time in devotions and in writing out Buddhist scripts onto Hanji books that she’s made.  Two of her friends were in the temple doing very intricate drawings with gold paint on Hanji. They drew lines without anything to follow, just from what inspires them, and when completed these were to be placed inside the temple as an offering to Buddha.

Writing Buddhist sayings in Hanji books
Fine drawings in gold paint
It was a beautifully serene place and inside and outside the building it had intricately carved and brightly painted architecture and inside there was a huge gold Buddha taking centre stage. There were two rows of low tables in front of the Buddha statue and this is where they worked, sometimes for hours at a time doing what they love, in devotion to their God. 

I’m sure time wasn’t an issue when entranced in their sacred place.

Beautiful details inside the temple
After the wander around we were invited to share a meal with Young Dam, so whilst the film crew kept filming in the museum and temple, we headed into a very basic kitchen and shared mountain herbs and vegetables with our host. Her wonderful helpers had prepared everything for us before we arrived and when we’d finish a particular vegetable, with the flick of her hand, Young Dam ushered for more to be served to complete our meal. Such generosity is common in Buddhist temples but this was particularly special.

To end our visit, and whilst the film crew ate, we were shown back into the room we’d started in and gestured to sit down.  Before I knew it my feet were up in the air and a footstool was underneath them, soothing music had been put on and Young dam slipped out of the room to entertain the other guests whilst eating their meal. I sat back, smiled to myself and chatted to Hayley, my interpreter, and mused over the whole experience.


It's a part of Korean culture to be hospitable and invite strangers into their homes and temples, it's a part of Korean culture for paper artists to make and enjoy Hanji, it's a part of Korean culture to want to share their traditions, and this Australian was left feeling thankful, exhilarated and humbled to have had this amazing experience.

Paper Art - IAPMA COngress 2018 ...

'Paper art is a modern art bred by traditions and crafts related to paper and, as the newest area in contemporary art, it blends tr...