I have been making paper in Darwin for the last 30 years and have experimented with around 70 local plant varieties both native and exotic. My initial paper experiments began while I was teaching ‘out bush’. The Aboriginal women of Belyuen taught me basket making and I began to experiment with these ‘string’ fibres for papermaking. My early paper work combined paper and ‘string’.
I still refer to indigenous and early colonial knowledge for sources of paper fibre.
I love the process from beginning to end: the research, the connections to the land past and present, the influence of the seasons, the harvesting and nurturing of the fibre plants.
Each plant produces a certain quality of paper with different properties that can be blended to achieve a specific result.
I have recently been using traditional bush dyes to colour the paper.
There is constant input and decision making from choosing the plant, the beating time, wet manipulation and drying method to produce the final dry sheet, beautiful in itself.
The environment the fibre is grown in can contribute to the final result as can the weather at the time it is made and there is always the element of chance and discovery as well.
I love listening to large sheets of paper drying!
Paper is such a versatile medium – always physical, tactile and sensual. It combines texture and translucence, fragility and strength.
My paper isn’t just a substrate for ideas but a haptic response to events and my environment.
My passion is watermarks, ‘hidden’ images in paper which, reference ownership, craftsmanship, a time and place. These images or text add another layer of meaning. I build up layers of colour by dipping a watermarked mould many times, often using found objects.
Paper is always a tangible expression of my environment.