A devotion to paper

On The Same Page: Transforming Paper showcases 12 artists working with paper | Photo by George Harwood Smith of North Van Arts

The exhibition On the Same Page: Transforming Paper runs May 10 to June 15 at Cityscape Community Art Space. It showcases 12 artists working with paper, a material most people use every day.

This exhibition features artists who are using paper obsessively and are interested in the materiality and versatility of the material,” says George Harwood Smith, exhibitions manager at North Van Arts.

The works being featured include artist-curators Rachael Ashe and Connie Sabo, and fellow artists Charles Clary, Concealed Studio (Mario Sabljak and Cheryl Cheng), Gail Grinnell, Annyen Lam, Monique Martin, Leslie Pearson, Brangwynne Purcell, Martha Ritchie, and Grant Withers.

The show on paper

Sabljak and Cheng met three years ago in their live-work studio building and decided to start working together. This partnership became Concealed Studio.

Sabljak, a furniture designer, and Cheng, a fulltime artist, establish their work as mainly inspired by the natural environment.

“I have always been into paper folding. I was always interested and fascinated in how a simple square piece of paper could be shaped into a rose,” says Cheng.

Their creations are based on research of fractals, insect anatomy, plant cells and crystals. While composing the monochromatic geometrics of the pieces, the two artists intend to evoke the viewer’s experience of stepping in and out of the segments of our imagination and reality.

“We are inspired from the world around us when we are creating pieces; music, fashion and regular day to day activities,” says Sabljak.

During recent exhibitions in Toronto and New York, many viewers commented the pieces were easy to ponder, with their subtle lighting, giving the impressions that they were all different. Others commented on how different the pieces seemed to be; yet, they were all the same pieces positioned at different angles.

History in “paper” making

The word “paper” is derived from papyrus, the plant from which it was originally made. Papyrus had its origins of use in ancient Egypt. As centuries past, the first papermaking process was then documented in China. During the 8th century, the paper-making process then spread to the Islamic world. By the 11th century, papermaking was brought to Europe. Over many centuries the papermaking process became more refined and modified through the invention of wood-based papers.

The final reinvention of paper became a quintessential moment in history. It was now light, affordable, and resilient. All over the world paper was used to write, to draw and to paint. People, now, make building plans with it, store meals in it, and filter tea through it. It has become ubiquitous, versatile and malleable.

One of the main attractions of Concealed Studio’s creations is their functionality. They also explore upcycling or the recycling of materials. The current installation features raw cuts from a golden cedar that were waste ends from a furniture making project.

“There can be so much waste from projects, so if this is one less thing going into the landfill, we will try to recycle or upcycle it,” says Sabljak.

After this current exhibition, it’s back to the studio for Sabljak and Cheng.

“It’s been a busy year showing in Korea and Toronto. We want to get back to designing; to come up with some fresh ideas,” says Sabljak and Cheng.

On the Same Page: Transforming Paper, is the paper-based show idea brainstormed by Ashe and Sabo who approached North Van Arts to make the call-out to other artists.

For more information: www.northvanarts.ca/events-exhibitions/on-the-same-page-transforming-paper