P

aper was so vitally important to continue the human quest for knowledge, of being able to illuminate, The Renaissance was really started by this humble material called paper. This humble material (paper) dragged the Renaissance through Europe,

In the Middle Ages, parchment, which was made from animal skin, was used for writing. It made written works costly and available only to the rich. Paper (from the Egyptian word “papyrus”) was developed in China in 200 B.C. and later made its way to Spain with the Moors. Made from old cotton rags, paper cost less and took less time to produce. The Gutenburg press soon followed, and ideas could be mass produced and spread throughout Europe The handmade paper industry blossomed in India during the Mughal reign but shrank with the invention of paper mills during the 18th and 19th centuries. Indians hold the credit of having made paper from cellulose fibers. The art of handmade papermaking was later revived under the inspiration of Mahatma Gandhi in the past century.

Papers are main palette when working with collage. They are the basic colors and textures that will form the finished artwork. One can use a different classification system with folders for different textures and grains and custom made paper , It really does not matter how you divide and categorize your paper collection. What is important is that this system suits your particular style and that one can find the language to communicate with paper and audiences with the final art works.

It is worthwhile spending some time searching for different papers. This search can begin in the art store, where there are many different types of paper, including pastel papers, course paper and silk paper. Your collection of papers should extend to the common and ordinary- the newspapers, magazines, even sweet papers. The important thing is to keep your eyes open to form, images and textures are more importantly, to textures and images that can be worked on and transformed into something else. This is the beginning of collection that will form the foundation of collage work and later on one can create their own image and texture to build the final image.

Since the early 1970s there has been a small but bold renaissance in hand papermaking by artists and crafts persons who have discovered that this medium can powerfully enhance works of art, or be a work of art itself. Though paper has long been a standard material in books, only recently have artists begun to explore this material’s extraordinary potential for transforming the expressive or narrative elements on the page. But there is also an appreciation for more commonplace papers that have been appropriated to a new effect. Some of the artists have utilized paper bags, Polish newspapers, pages from old Bibles, or even children’s coloring books. These works often include commercially-produced acidic papers that self-destruct in a few short years, yet there is a beauty even in these brown, crumbling pages that suggest the passage of time. Paper becomes both foreground and background here

More than a decade ago, we heralded computers, e-mail, and the Internet as a means to reduce consumption of paper for printing and writing, newsprint, packaging, and other uses. But today, more than ever, paper remains the dominant and essential vehicle of modern communications. Far from ushering in a “paperless office,” for example, computers, e-commerce, fax machines, and other information technologies have fueled paper demand, creating more “information consumers” who routinely print web pages, e-mails, and other verifications of electronic information (von Ungern-Sternberg and von Ungern-Sternberg 1999:230).

Some historians speculate that paper was the key element in global cultural advancement. According to this theory, Chinese culture was less developed than the West’s in ancient times because bamboo (although abundance of materials is generally the primary reason for the use of bamboo as opposed to scientific prowess) was a clumsier writing material than papyrus; Chinese culture advanced during the Han Dynasty and preceding centuries due to the invention of paper; and Europe advanced during the Renaissance due to the introduction of paper and the printing press.

Despite the pressure from vendors to go entirely digital, there are still many times when paper may play a superior role supporting students, researchers ,artists and many others to investigations , problem solving and enhancement of their intellectual thought process.

Samit das

New Delhi

September 2005

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