Art works from waste paper products

Janet Perrior with Units of Habitation from her Inside Out exhibition at Parker Gallery.
MARION VAN DIJK/FairfaxNZ

Janet Perrior with Units of Habitation from her Inside Out exhibition at Parker Gallery.

Janet Perrior talks with Judith Ritchie about her passion for reinventing discarded paper products into visual art.

Most of us go about our day taking in random visuals. But not Janet Perrior. The Richmond artist spends a lot of time looking; scanning for materials for her art work. Cardboard, paper, maps, envelopes, sweet wrappers, tea bags and wine boxes are just a few of her passions, and like a magpie, she's always on the look-out for these materials to add to her considerable 'nest."

"I really like the idea of working with recycled materials and giving them a new life as something else," Perrior says. "When people look at my work I'd like them to think how interesting it is, and that it was once a tree. There's so many trees being knocked down for paper pulp, it seems such a waste and re-using it helps."

Colour Ragtime, detail, by Janet Perrior
MARION VAN DIJK/FairfaxNZ

Colour Ragtime, detail, by Janet Perrior

Once collected Perrior spends hours re-purposing the materials into distinctive art works by folding, splicing, opening up, and revealing the structure of cardboard, the wine carton, or glimpses of maps, while challenging our perceptions of the normally mundane materials.

Perrior's exhibition Inside Out opens at the Parker Gallery tonight. She hopes that when people look at her work they will think about the materials while also seeing them as visually attractive.

"The work in this exhibition endeavours to look beyond cardboard's practical, everyday use as packaging to see the beauty in its structure inside and outside, surface and internal construction, and give it a new life outside of the box."  

Perrior says the process is an organisation of what is potentially chaotic in the world,  almost like weaving.

"It is meditative, I spend hours at my desk," Perrior says. "All my work is made up of units, like a choir of separate groups of singers, when they come together it's more the sum of all the parts."

Her interest in re-purposing began after completing a BA in Fine Arts at Brighton University, England,  between 1976 and 1979. This followed a two year stint in Japan, where Perrior discovered the myriad of ways that paper was used for, both practically and as decoration.

Then followed time experimenting with paper and thread, like weaving paper, which led onto the works she is making now.

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"It's a time consuming process, I couldn't say how long each piece takes," Perrior says. "I make them in units or strips then put them all together."

Some works are painted with acrylics, but most are used as is, with the colours on the found objects, like maps and wine boxes, left obvious.

"Card will do certain things, like folding better one way than another, you get to know it's limitations and work with that."

Inside Out, Janet Perrior, Parker Gallery, 90 Achilles Avenue, Wakatu Square, Nelson. Opens tonight 5.30pm, all welcome to February 16.

 - Stuff

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