Origami ignores the separation between the image and the paper. The paper becomes part of the image, and is twisted and folded until it is the picture, not merely the surface on which it lies.
– John D. Barrow, The Artful Universe
As a young boy I discovered that my slightly unusual long fingers lent themselves to two skills: playing the violin and creating intricate paper objects. My days spent folding paper began rather conventionally with numerous paper aeroplanes regularly littering the house. Over time I discovered there were increasingly intricate plane designs that could all be made from that identical single sheet of paper, and from this stemmed a fascination with the world of origami. It was something I learned alone and, at the time, libraries provided the only accessible source of new designs and I would hunt down whatever books I could (as with most things, the Internet now provides far superior learning tools with instructional videos that are much easier to follow than often perplexing diagrammatic representations), sometimes exasperating my parents slightly at the speed with which I could demolish a fresh stack of paper.
Whilst the hobby lasted a few years, it gradually faded, though it still had unexpected benefits years later. When a girl first accepted and then confusingly rebuffed my advances, I folded and left her a small white crane as a simple token to say “no hard feelings”. Unbeknownst to me, paper cranes had particular significance in her life and that small piece of paper led us into a lengthy relationship.
A few months ago I found myself in a bar, killing time and chatting to the bartender Rachel over a martini. As we spoke, my hands started fiddling idly with a flyer and absently folding. I realised that I could still produce a few designs etched into the memory of my fingers if not my mind. It reignited my interest in the art, although the reason only gradually emerged. I know that I routinely feel the need to engage in some manner of creative pursuit and typically this takes the form of photography or writing. However, there seems to be a more specific urge at times to create something. Painting always felt different as a result, due to the physical result that could be held, inspected, displayed. Crafting something from a single sheet of paper, even more so.
I recently bought a pack of traditional washi, handmade Japanese paper that is tougher than standard wood pulp paper and excellent for art forms like origami and shodo. I tend to trial new origami designs first on larger sheets of cheaper paper so I can learn how they work and make alterations, but folding with washi can actually make some intricate techniques much easier due to the way it adopts folds and resists crumpling. My first project (illustrating this post) was a small gift for two performer friends of mine, based on their stage names, Tempest Rose and Jolie Papillon: The Rose and The Butterfly.
I have been quiet but the result is a full gallery of photos from the States. Unsurprisingly you will find lots of photos of Clark (who became progressively easier to photographs in just the 2 weeks I was there) and Karleigh (who is the sort of kid that complains when you stop taking photos of her). At the end of the gallery you will find all the photos from before and after the Art Melt at the Dixon house. Dave Marley had been planning this all summer, and the event was a great success.
The principle is simple — several artists get together to exhibit their work while anyone is free to come by and view. Debbie was initially worried about the number of people who might descend upon the house, but she thoroughly enjoyed the night. Alongside the art was a range of food to nibble, cold drinks and live music from a band Dave knew. It was particularly interesting being around the week beforehand, seeing several of the artists coming to the house to sketch ideas and prepare.
Distinguished visitors included a man running for judge which highlighted another idiosyncrasy of the American system. Elected positions are not just the obvious political ones, but rather span sheriff, district attorney (the chief prosecutor) and judges. On the surface this appears a more democratic way of doing things. However beneath that, and the reason we do not adopt it here, is the concern that these people cannot be expected to do their jobs properly when a popular election is imminent — they are clearly conflicted by a desire to retain their position.
To avoid going stir crazy while cooped up in the apartment with medical books, a pregnant Jenna discovered couponing which has now overtaken her life (we mused that given our family’s apparent addictive personality — Caleb and WOW, Manel and cleaning — it was a good thing none had ever been hooked on drugs). The basic system involves matching specific coupons with sales on at certain stores. So if there is a buy one get one free coupon and a buy one get one free sale at the shop, after both items and the coupon are rung up, the marvel of modern technology and automated tills reduces the price to zero. It gets much more complicated than that, of course, but there’s a very odd feeling walking away with $18 of shampoo for 82 cents, particularly as the clerk apologises since he had technically overcharged us. The whole procedure becomes significantly more challenging when performed with three children in tow, I discovered, when we hooked up with Cassie. Jenna’s least proud moment, however, has to be sitting in front of Target cutting out coupons around 10pm only to find that once she was done the store had been closed for 10 minutes.
Jenna and I discussed a group photo she had taken of her friends at university and how she felt she was very much part of the picture despite not being physically in it — she can see herself in it. In much the same way I am very definitely in many of the photos in this gallery. In fact as a photographer I have often found that I can tell how another photographer feels about their subjects simply from the way they choose to shoot them, occasionally with surprising results…