In October 2016, internationally celebrated psaligraphy (paper cut) artists - Professor Xiaoguang Qiao from China and Norwegian artist Karen Bit Vejle - were invited to visit Jersey by ArtHouse Jersey with their exquisite exhibition of paper cut art ‘Paper Dialogues - The Dragon and Our Stories’
Thanks to the on-going support of Skipton International through the Skipton Art Series, the One Foundation, the Association of Jersey Charities and The Arts Society Jersey, ArtHouse Jersey was able to keep the dialogue of paper-cutting alive through an island-wide initiative; ‘Paper Talks’.
Comprising of a nine-meter long Chinese dragon and seven large, ornate dragon eggs made entirely out of paper, the 'Paper Dialogues' exhibition was installed in a purpose-built gallery space in the Assembly Rooms of the St. Helier Town Hall.
Steven Laffoley-Edwards created the lighting design for the space and an original soundscape was specially commissioned for the exhibition. Jack Chown, a Jersey-born and London Based Producer and Composer who trained at University of Oxford and Abbey Road Institute composed the imaginative score, which was dispersed around the room by a series of speakers in reference to the dragon and her seven eggs.
During the exhibition’s two-week run in Jersey, over 5,000 people, including 600 local students, came to view the work, which proved to be a huge source of inspiration for islanders.
However, this was just the beginning of the paper-cutting legacy that ensued in the Island since the exhibition.
The seven local artists visited 22 local primary and secondary schools, and have delivered workshops to various businesses and community groups in the Island, including charities, care homes and clubs. These workshops continued throughout 2017 bringing more and more islanders into contact with the 1,500-year-old craft of paper cutting.
The workshop participants created A4 egg-shaped paper-cuts that would eventually be used to suggest the scales of a ‘Paper Dragon’ sculpture.
“I think today was the best because not only did we just do cutting but we all had fun doing everything!” – Student at St Christopher’s School
“The children really enjoyed it and learnt about different forms of art as well as improving basic paper cutting skills' – Teacher at Samarès School
The Jersey ‘Paper Dragon’, a 3-D sculptural installation, comprising of over 5,000 community scales, was suspended in the atrium of the Jersey Library between May 15th – June 30th 2017, part of a celebratory showcase entitled ‘Paper Talks’ across different venues.
The Paper Talks showcase also included an exhibition documenting the project, with information, photography, film and examples of work, at the Jersey Museum Link Gallery, and an exhibition of response works created by each of the local artists involved at the Jersey Arts Centre’s Berni Gallery between May 8th – June 2nd 2017, which told the story of the process and relations that have formed as well as what had been discovered through the work. All three exhibitions were free to attend and saw thousands of visitors.
As part of a celebration of the community achievement, ArtHouse Jersey held private views of the showcases at the Berni Gallery and Jersey Library respectively, as well as a special schools visit day in May, which saw hundreds of the students who contributed paper scales to the Dragon come to the Library to see their work and hear a specially commissioned poem about dragons performed by actor and comedian The Story Beast (John-Henry Falle).
To capture the local engagement with the dragon sculpture the public were invited to post drawings, poems and messages about the ‘Jersey Dragon’ in a dragon egg post-box. We received hundreds of submissions, which were then displayed alongside the dragon in July for visitors to enjoy. We also ran a naming-competition for the Dragon with prizes, sponsored by Skipton, awarded for the two winning names in the children’s and adult categories.
In 2018 we are continuing to explore and respond to the great interest from our international partners to host the work of our Jersey artists and mark the paper talks project and legacy outside of the island.
More information about the individual aspects of the project, including the touring exhibition of works by Bit and Professor Qiao, and the local artists' work can be found below.
Thanks to the on-going support of Skipton International through the Skipton Art Series, the One Foundation, the Association of Jersey Charities and JEDFAS, the Jersey Arts Trust was able to keep the dialogue of paper-cutting alive through an Island-wide initiative, the ‘Paper Talks’ Project.