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TRCH David Suchet

Art Works: Paperworks by Hannah Lobley

15 October 11 words: Hannah Lobley

"This is all down to a book I once accidentally left out in the rain"

This is all down to a book I once accidentally left out in the rain. It was my favourite book, too – Lord Of The Rings. It had swelled up and was completely ruined. Luckily, I had just started studying my MA degree, and was experimenting with woodworking techniques on different materials. I thought; well, paper started life as wood, so I tried the same techniques and it began there.

This led me to develop an original and unique recycling technique which makes use of unwanted books and paper. I layer and transform the pages back to a wood-like material, which I then use to create objects, using traditional woodworking methods. The surface patterns of the paper creates an echo of wood grain when worked upon. Wood becomes paper becomes wood.

I developed this technique while studying for my Masters in Applied Art and Visual Culture at London Guildhall University, and have made it my full-time job; I’ve been creating pieces for the past six years – four and a half years at the Banks Mill studios in Derby, and the last eighteen months in my own studio in Nottingham. I always knew I wanted to run my own creative business; I completed my Art Foundation at Newark College and a degree in Decorative Arts at Nottingham Trent. Each helped to progress my creativity and techniques, and built the foundations for my practise today. You can’t switch off your creativity, it’s in you. To not try and fulfil those ambitions would be against my nature.

I see myself an Environmental Paper Artist. Paperwork is committed to sustainability. The material and objects produced are very tactile, open and adaptable. Each product takes between a month and six weeks to create, depending on size, and is a one off, unique item in which the distinct surface texture cannot be recreated. The ring and the bowl actually took the same time to make – it’s actually 15cm in diameter. And yes, the ring is made from that same ruined copy of Lord Of The Rings – it was actually bought by a guy who worked on the special effects for the film version.

Given the time and money, I’d love to create larger-scale furniture pieces - tables and chairs, but it would take lots of books and time to produce anything of that size. My products have been recognised for their unique qualities; winning accolades, exhibiting nationally and internationally, completing public and private commissions in Japan and England, and I’ve been showcased by the Crafts Council at the Victoria and Albert Museum shop. They’ve also been on sale in Liberty.

I’m a member of Creative Twinning, a collective of local artists who are forging a link with artists from Nottingham’s twin cities. We’re going to be heavily involved in Creative October 2011, a month-long initiative that celebrates the city’s artistic ector; myself, JC Middlebrook and Debbie Bryan have forged links with eco-designers from Karlsruhe, and we’ll be exhibiting with them this October.

Creative Twinning, the Lace Market Gallery, 25 Stoney Street NG1 1LP, from 12 October


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