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Collage by Guan Huaibin

Paper Exchange

6th April – 3rd May 2019

Wang Dongling, Chen Xujiang, Chen Yan,  Guan Huaibin, Gu Rong, Huang Jun, Hua Jun,  Shi Bing, Xi Wang,  Zhang Hao, Zhou Jin
Iwan Bala, Richard Cox, Ifor Davies, Dave Gould, Mary Husted, Sue Hunt, Maggie James, Philip Nicol, Valerie Coffin Price, Lois Williams, Sue Williams.

The exhibition is in collaboration with the School of Art Administration and Education, China Academy of Art.

‘Paper Exchange’ develops the spirit of open, cross cultural dialogue established by Open Books. Since the ‘Open Books’ show at the Sanshang Contemporary Art Museum in Hangzhou, China in 2013, the idea has been in the air that several artists in the fluid ‘Open Books’group might create a drawing show together – this is the result.

What is Open Books? ‘In 2004-5 Mary Husted spent some time working and travelling in Hong Kong and China, where she encountered the folding books used by many artists there. She became excited about the possibilities this format offered for new ways of unfolding and presenting an image. This led to an exhibition of books, OPEN BOOKS: SIXTEEN ARTISTS AND THE CHINESE FOLDING BOOK  in 2012 in the National Library of Wales. A number of blank folding books had been given out by Mary to various artist friends mostly from Wales, but also some from Australia and Hong Kong. The exhibition has gone on to further showings and gradually as it has moved to other countries and venues, new local artists have been added. In November 2013 it went to The Sanshang Museum of Contemporary Art in Hangzhou, China, where it accompanied the work of 40 Chinese artists in a celebration of the folding book. Since then in a collaboration between a group of Welsh artists with the Sanshang Museum, it has travelled to Australia, Hong Kong, Canada, India and the US. There are now more than one hundred books.’

‘The current ‘Paper Exchange’ exhibition presents the challenge: what happens if normal working materials are exchanged? At first the idea was that Welsh artists could be sent rice papers, Chinese artists could be sent watercolour papers. But as  the idea developed in conversation with our Chinese friends, we realised that Western materials were already freely available in China and a more appropriate ‘challenge’ would be to send old maps, posters and book pageswith a distinctly European patination to their artists. In the West there is a long tradition of drawing with the cut out / collage / papier colléand the ready made, and although obviously our Chinese colleagues might occasionally work like this, it is not a usual starting point in the studio. The material becomes something to investigate, tear, re-assemble, the usual rules are redundant.

In the messy business of making an artwork, materials and their qualities are central to an artist’s whole practice. Whichever culture we grow up in we become carriers of long traditions which we explore and challenge. The questions raised about finding common ground between artists coming from long but differing traditions in a global, geographically shrinking world, and the potential for misunderstandings as well as mutual enrichment, has, I think, extended the dialogue which we hope is an essential part of Paper Exchange in the Open Books project.’

 The exhibition at BayArt runs from 6th April – 3rd May 2019. Accompanying this show is an Open Books exhibition at Art Central in Barry 13th April – 11th May 2019, where some of the folding books will be on show alongside works on paper.

image: Guan Huaibin detail