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Australia’s seaside culture celebrated through torn-paper technique

Paper repurposed into striking works of art will be revealed at an exhibition celebrating Australia’s iconic beach culture in Burnie this summer.

Presented by the University of Tasmania, Sun, sand and surf will showcase the unique paper collage creations of emerging Hobart artist Sevasti Johnson.

Opening at Makers’ Workshop tomorrow (Thursday, 6 February), the exhibition will feature 12 artworks comprising hundreds of torn paper pieces, meticulously layered to create images inspired by Australian beach life.  

Sevasti Johnson said she began exploring the practice of ‘painting with paper’ after being inspired by its ability to convey powerful imagery.

“I hope visitors viewing the exhibition will appreciate and gain insight into how paper such as magazines, newspapers, brochures, pamphlets and photos can be utilised to create images that can be as engaging, mesmerising and as powerful as a conventional painting,” Ms Johnson said.

“With each new piece, I search through my paper sources to find the right ready mixed colours, text and images with which to create. While colour provides contrast which draws the eye, text and images can be utilised to incorporate direction, flow and contours.  

“This exhibition is offered as a tribute to Burnie’s history as a ‘paper’ town, and intends to acknowledge the former mill’s impact in growing the community by creating jobs while enabling families to forge a good seaside lifestyle.”

Cradle Coast campus Arts and Public Programs Coordinator Joanna Gair said the artworks had been curated to compliment and connect to the beachfront location of Burnie’s Makers’ Space, which overlooks Bass Strait.

“This is the first time Makers' Space has presented an exhibition entirely comprised of collage. It's a simple but painstaking process which requires a very adept sense of colour and form as well as a great deal of patience, Ms Gair said.

“The artist ‘paints in paper’ by gluing cut, or in this case, torn coloured papers to create pictures resembling mosaics.

“The technique is centuries-old, but the term ‘collage’ is relatively modern, having been coined in the 20th century by cubist artists such as Picasso who made it popular.”

Aligning with the University’s commitment to present initiatives that foster culture and creative opportunities locally, visitors are invited to try their hand at collage inside the Makers’ Space on Wednesday, 19 February between 3 – 4.30pm.

“It's wonderful to see how such humble, often discarded materials can be elevated to works of art and I hope the exhibition inspires the community and visitors to try the technique for themselves.”

Sun, sand and surf will continue in the Makers’ Space until Sunday, 29 March.

Registrations for the collage workshop on 19 February can be made by emailing Joanna.Gair@utas.edu.au.

Image: Detail from Sevasti Johnson - Weathered Boat 2019.

Published on: 05 Feb 2020 4:29pm