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Birds, Beasts & Blossoms – My Latest Group Exhibition in Ballarat

Birds Beasts and Blossoms: Group Exhibition at Backspace Gallery, Ballarat

Birds Beasts & Blossoms called for entries that responded to the title – birds, beasts an blossoms – whether real or imaginary…. and the entries certainly addressed the theme robustly!

The group exhibition included approximately sixteen visual artists who’s artworks ranged from realist watercolor to underwater macro photography to sculpture to abstract media works – the range of interpretation was fantastic!

My interpretation translated into some handmade paper pieces with flower inclusions with mixed media additions such as feathers and embroidery. ideally I would have liked my works to be framed to highlight their true potential – but, what artist can afford framing!!?? Yikes…. I try to rely on the art buyers imagination – good idea?? who knows!!

The exhibition finished last weekend – but I have been so busy I haven’t had a chance to post it on the blog till now. If you follow me on Facebook or Twitter or Google plus you would have heard about it – but my blog was neglected :-((

However, without further ado here are some pics of the opening which was jam packed and wonderful!!

New Exhibition: Sculptural Handmade Paper

Some of you may know that recently I have been making handmade paper and experimenting with adding lots of different inclusions to the basic paper pulp. I have been really happy with the results I’ve been achieving, and have had good responses from people to whom I have shown the completed papers. So when, a few months ago, an invitation for Expressions of Interest was put out for a local public art gallery where I live I submitted a proposal based on my handmade papers. The exhibition space is made up of several wall mounted perspex boxes, which I thought perfect to display the papers.

The gallery is in a laneway in Ballarat, and is part of council’s public art program. The laneway walls are fitted with the boxes which are locked and lit for 24/7 display – a great way to enliven otherwise dank laneways.

I was lucky enough to be successful in my proposal, and the exhibition was installed and opened on 7th November. This being a reasonably new medium for me I was really happy with the way the exhibition looked, and even sold a work on opening night! Hopefully that is an omen for the remainder of the exhibition.

Textured Landscape: Eucalyptus Pulp and Jute

SOLD – Textured Landscape: Eucalyptus Pulp and Jute

Even though this is a new medium it does tie in with the underlying environmental and organic themes of most of my work – so I am excited to be exploring a new way to communicate these ideas to a potentially wider audience.

The photos for this post were difficult to take given the narrowness of the laneway and the reflective surface of the perspex. So when the works are uninstalled – in six weeks – time, I will rephotograph the works when the perspex is removed, and put them in a new blog post.

So without further ado, here are some images of the installation of the show and the finished exhibition 🙂

Memories through Papermaking

Regular followers may know that I experimented with some papermaking some while back, and I was so pleased with the results that I have since applied for some exhibiting opportunities based on ‘sculptural’ paper concepts – and was lucky enough to land a solo exhibition at Unicorn Gallery in Ballarat, the closest town centre to where I live (yes, I am a country bumpkin!).

100% eucalyptus paper

100% eucalyptus paper

My earlier experiments, which included using eucalyptus bark, leaves and twigs, resulted in some quite textural papers which were mini sculptures within themselves, embodying the landscape from which they came – and my proposal was based upon this concept: the ‘blurb’ :

Dawn Whitehand’s From the Landscape series features organic and found materials gleaned from her immediate natural environment which are combined with handmade paper to form sculptural narratives that reflect the colour and textures she is inspired by in her everyday art making process. These snapshots capture fleeting moments and memories of trace elements often overlooked in a busy goal orientated world. It is hoped such images anchor the viewer within their immediate environment, inviting them to contemplate the reality of their everyday lives.

So, my exhibition opens on the 8th November…yikes, I better start making stuff!

But, some history of the art space:

The Unicorn Gallery is a public art space, sponsored by the City of Ballarat, consisting of several perspex boxes of varying sizes mounted on a brick wall in Unicorn Lane. The project is part of an overall City Of Ballarat initiative to increase the contemporary profile of public art in Ballarat.

Ballarat has a long public art history, and more recently, facilitated by public arts officer Julie Collins, a large part of this has been the reinterpretation of Ballarat’s laneways. Ballarat was European settled as a Goldrush town, and therefore has an abundance of bluestone laneways (in need of reinvigoration). Over the past couple of years many of these laneways have been enlivened by public artworks, including Unicorn Lane.

An example of a previous exhibition at the Unicorn Gallery, which I reviewed, can be seen here, and a group exhibition I participated in can be viewed here.

Getting back to the point however, I have begun making sculptural paper for the space, and the beginnings of my process is here:

The above images show the paper in its wet stage… as it dries it will become lighter – more earthy rather than gray.

I am making more paper tomorrow with some different flowers and leaves, and I will also be boiling down some peanut shells to experiment with. I have not used peanut shells before to make paper so that should be interesting.

So, no guessing what my next blog post will be about??

Stay tuned 🙂

More On Handmade Paper

A little while ago I posted about some handmade paper I had made in the studio using equipment that was at hand – showing that you don’t really have to spent lots of dollars to be creative.  You can view that post here.

I used recylced paper for that initial experiment  and being pretty pleased with the results, decided to be a bit more daring with my next foray into making paper.

A few months ago some tree trimming was carried out by the council along the front of our property – due to trees growing into power lines and the bushfire danger in Australia. As I live on a ten acre property, and we try to grow our own vegetables we asked that the mulch be left with us for our garden. As a result I was left with a huge mound of eucalyptus mulch – perfect for making paper!

I used eucalyptus leaves, bark and twigs for the paper, and when using plant materials caustic coda is used to boil the fibres into pulp – that was a bit scary, but as long as gloves and goggles are used everything is fine.

Boiling the eucalyptus pulp

Boiling the eucalyptus pulp

The eucalyptus pulp

The eucalyptus pulp









I boiled the pulp for about two hours, and then rinsed and rinsed – the caustic soda must all be rinsed away before any attempt to make paper is made.

I still had some recycled paper pulp left from the last project, so I made some sheets of paper using pure eucalyptus, and some using a mixture of paper and eucalyptus.

100 % eucalyptus paper

100 % eucalyptus paper

Freshly made paper - eucalyptus and recycled paper pulp

Freshly made paper – eucalyptus and recycled paper pulp









Overall, I was again happy with the results. Though I could have boiled the eucalyptus longer if I wanted smoother paper, the sculptural results of this paper was very exciting, and I intend to experiment more with this idea.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Pattern

I’ve decided, for this weeks photo challenge, to post some organic, natural patterns – namely the type that occurs in the textured glazes I use on some of my ceramic sculpture.  The glazes I use are formulated to highlight the natural shapes of the forms, and the patterns that eventuate are based on fractal structures –  a term introduced by French mathematician Benoit Mandelbrot (born 1924) in 1975 to describe the ever recurring uneven and apparent random – yet predictable – patterns that happen in nature. This theory also ties into chaos theory – which is actually not chaotic, but in fact also predicable!

I have also included a detail of a piece of handmade paper made from natural materials… again this handmade process using natural materials has formed an organic, yet repetitive pattern.

Patterns such as this, and indeed fractal and chaos theory, are an amazing insight into the inherent rules of nature – as opposed to the constructed and controlled patterns of humankind.

More posts for this weeks photo challenge can be seen here:



Makeshift Papermaking

So, as regular readers will know I have a fully functional ceramics studio… but if I want to do a little papermaking…?

a. I don’t have the  equipment needed
b. I don’t want to purchase the equipment needed

ALSO, as regular readers may know I have ‘another’ blog, which is dedicated to poetry and drawing, and I love drawing on handmade paper because I enjoy the random textures that handmade paper brings to an (abstract) image.

SO what to do? IMPROVISE…

Suddenly frames from old paintings or drawings executed years ago (and which I now don’t particulary like) combined with old torn fly screens becomes the mould, and another slightly smaller picture frame becomes the deckle. Recycled polystyrene containers become the vats, and kids clothes that have been sitting around waiting to be delivered to the Salvos, become the felts. Here is Australia it is Summer so the clothes horse is the paper dryer, and the absence of a proper paper press means clamps (that I don’t know the proper ‘tool’ name for)  are used.

I am pretty set to go… because of my limited equipment I am going with recycled paper for this project.

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