Tuesday, 27 November 2018

Paper, paper everywhere at the Takeo paper show 'Subtle'.


My other half is away, working.

Dealing with heavy rain in the desert.

Most put out he is. He was planning a lie down on the beach after work.


While he is away, I am having a paper fest.

It is too cold to work in my studio, so I am staying put in suburbia and converting the house into a papery haven. Paper all over my study floor, the kitchen table, and the floor.

It has made me realise how much I can achieve when there are no distractions.

I am churning out small books by the handful. Trying out differrent shapes and covers for my current project of a book on the subject 'Translation' for the Instagram #areyoubookenough monthly challenge.

First I tried making a panel book , but decided it was a case of structure taking precedence over content.

panel book

Next a pearl drop binding and conventional pages.

I liked the minimalistic style of the cover, but the inside was a mess.

messy book
I am working with images of sunlight on water.

When I told OH ( my other half) that I am working on an abstract book, his reply was a groan of despair......

which is why it is better that he is far away.

I called the initial versions 'Lost in Translation', for the sunlight scribbles are not possible to read. I think of it as asemic script ( a form of abstract text).

Later a phrase popped into my head 'So said the Sun'.

And I realised that if I used selected parts in small circles of 'text' (like the sun) I could make it appear more like a written text.

I experimented with horizontal and vertical patterns.

So Said the Sun

So now I am working on this idea, and hope to refine it further. A concertina feels more appropriate, and I am trying to find some finer paper that will be slightly translucent, and yet be accepted by my temperamental printer.

In the midst of all this fun I took a research break to the Takeo paper show 'Subtle' at Japan House in London.

And what a treat it was. Perfectly timed for this project.

An elegant, extraordinary show exploring the word subtle in relation to paper and ordinary life. Accompanying this are luxurious photographs of paper by Ueda Yoshihiko.

paper fan and photograph by Ueda Yoshihiko

A selection of pale pink papers by Miyata Yumiyo reminded me of babies and powder puffs.

'Something like a necklace connected sharing a light contact' by Miyata Yumiyo

Moulded pulp packaging for Parisian cakes.

Probably very expensive cakes...

moulded pulp packaging

Then the tiniest paper 'Chocolate's Hats' by Hara Kenya.

So delicate that their shadow was easier to see than the paper itself.

Like plankton floating on a sea of white.

Japanese calligraphy by Ishikawa Kyuyo.

Initially I thought the lines were created by thread. But it is all ink on paper.

by Ishikawa Kyuyo

Wakana 1 by Ishikawa Kyuyo

In his transcription of “The Tale of Genji”, Ishikawa recorded the “vibration” of  every letter of 55 chapters across the page in a single line as if it was actually pronounced.

He is said to be feeling the words with his brush, across the page.

A very personal interpretation of an ancient text.

 Next a very zen single sheet of paper on a lacquer tray.

White paper symbolises the signal of a new beginning, where the person using it begins something.

I found this all very calming.

When did you last open a handwritten envelope.

And why does a diamond seam have more prestige than a straight one?

Sealing envelopes and then opening them are irreversible acts. As is folding a sheet of paper.

Not something I had ever really considered before.

But obvious really....

Suitably amazed by all of these delicate paper creations I made my way home determined to make my book much much better than it is right now.

Perfection takes time.

Tomorrow is another day.

And I have some new ideas.

paper at Japan House © caroline fraser


  1. So interesting, Caroline! I’ve never been to Japan House....must make plans to visit!
    Love the idea of sunlight lines on water as writing. Those illegible squiggles can sometimes communicate so much more than normal words can, the magical combination of water, sunlight and nature!

    1. the exhibition finishes at Christmas, so try and get there soon! So glad you enjoyed the post.