So how far can you push paper as a drawing material in its own right? I recently came across this image by Anant Tavkar, simply created using his fingernails working into the back of handmade paper.
There is something magical about this image, its working process is all about touch and feel, but the image we are looking at is about hearing. Three different senses combined in the experience of one image. To see, to hear, to touch. You can mould paper, cut it, scratch it, punch holes in it, fold it, sandpaper it, wet it, stretch it, push pins through it and whatever else you can think of to manipulate it. All these processes of course not leaving a trace of themselves beyond a change in the paper’s appearance. We are so used to drawings that are done by working on the paper with a material that leaves a trace of its working, whether this is ink, pencil, charcoal, paint etc. that we can often forget to explore the quality of the paper itself as a drawing material.
The problem is that this can become something that operates entirely as a craft, (i.e. being concerned solely with the skills of making) and you can become so absorbed with technique that you forget content. However just because there are potential dangers in taking work in a direction, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go there. An interesting variation on the theme of paper as a drawing material is on show at the moment at the Carol Fletcher Gallery. As part of its ‘Onscreen’ programme they are showing John Wood and Paul Harrison’s ‘One More Kilometre’ from 2009. A stack of paper is ‘attacked’ by a hand held belt sander. As the sander is lowered to the stack the top layers of paper are sent shooting off to one side, moving so fast that they appear to make a white moving line. See the video here
In this case the paper becomes the line, the support itself becoming the subject of the work. This is also another piece of work that lies on that boarder between drawing, performance and media, demonstrating once again that a lot of interesting work is being done along the frayed edges of disciplines.