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Featured Artist • Fibre Artist

Joanne B. Kaar • Caithness, Scotland, UK
About the Artist | Process Notes | Web site | Blog | Click on thumbnails

About the Artist

Joanne B. Kaar has worked as a self-employed fibre artist for more than 14 years since obtaining an MA at Manchester Metropolitan University. Her studio on Dunnet Head overlooks the Pentland Firth and Dunnet Bay on the north coast of Scotland.

In 2004, she spent five exciting months in Taiwan as Artist in residence at the Chaoyang University and as consultant to the Su-Ho Paper Museum Taipei, culminating in exhibitions at the Su-Ho and Tower 101 (the tallest building the world).

In 2006 she completed a 3 months residency for the Durness Development Group in Mackay Country covering the far north west corner of mainland Scotland. These residencies were supported by the National Lottery through the Scottish Arts Council and by partnership funding from Highland Year of Culture 2007. She is the author of the book "Papermaking and Bookbinding Coastal Inspirations," published by GMC in 2003. Joanne has been on the board for CraftScotland since 2006.

Process Notes
"Log Books"
My ideas start from the origins of ‘log books’. In the early days of sailing ships, the ship’s records were written on shingles cut from logs. These shingles were hinged and opened like a book. The record was called a logbook. Later on, when paper was readily available and bound into books, the record maintained its name.
The contrast of handmade paper production and uses in the east and west continues to intrigue me. Particular materials and techniques chosen for construction, the size of the ‘books’ and their content directly relate to specific sites. ‘Books’ and paper objects made were digitally photographed on site as if they were archaeological finds, before being placed in the ‘boat’ to start a new journey. These photographs also became an important part of the final artwork and display. My display case is made from an old canoe from Balnakeil. It was transformed into a display case by Alan Herman, a woodworker from Balnakiel Craft Village. It stands at just under 6ft. My exhibition is in No 1 Bard Terrace. This room was also my studio while in Durness. The canoe will continue it's journey on tour in Mackay country during 2007.

"Message in a Bottle"
On Saturday 12th August 2006, I threw 6 identical messages in bottles into the sea off Faraid Head. It was on this day in 1849, a ship called the Canton was wrecked on the rocks at Clach Mhor Na Faraid. I wanted to discover where goods from the ship would have been taken by the sea. Goods include Clydesdale Bank notes which had been cut in two, diagonally. Some were washed ashore on Balnakeil Beach. There may be more… Other accounts give the 22nd August 1847 as the day the Canton was shipwrecked. In this box is a replica message in a bottle!

"Archeological Markers"
There are many ancient historical sites around Durness. You have to know what to look for, as they’re well hidden in the landscape. I visited a site to west of Loch Borralie which has Norse beginnings. archaeologists had already investigated, and covered the site with rabbit proof mesh held in place with a grid of stones to protect it for the future.When documenting a site, archaeologists use a variety of bright coloured markers and flags. I brought my own archaeological markers of bright yellow nuggets of paper pulp to highlight the patterns of stones, some made by the archaeologists and others much more ancient!

"Ghost Money"
The top image is made with recycled ghost money and covers of bamboo. They were part of the exhibition at the Su-Ho Paper Museum in Taipei. The lower image is a book is made with pages of recycled ghost money. The book box is made from a Taiwan newspaper. I chose the sections with the most red print. These simple origami boxes made from waste papers are used everyday in Taiwan for kitchen waste.

"Sango Sands Seapapers"
On Thursday 3rd August I threw this book into the sea at Sango Sands. The pages of this chunky book were made from a variety of different handmade papers including linen fibre, ellie poo, all my out of date herbs and waste paper. I wanted to discover what the effects of the sea would have on the papers and the binding. It looked alive while floating in between the waves. Now dry, and still full of sand, it looks like it has been on an exciting journey.

"Hut Circle"
There are many hut circles in the landscape around Durness. In this box you’ll find a kit to grow your own ! The size is based on one at Cnoc na Moine which has a diameter of 8.5m (28ft). This area is limestone ground. I purchased a mix pack of wild flowers for Calcareous Soil – (chalk and limestone) and added them to the paper pulp. Species Include :- Agrimony, Wild Basil, Ladys Bedstraw, Birds-foot-trefoil, Burnet Salad, Wild Carrot, Cowslip, Oxeye Daisy, Rough Hawkbit, Common and Greater Knapweed, Black Medic, Wild Migonette, Hoary Plantain, Field and Small Scabious, Selfheal, Kidney Vetch, Yarrow, Yellow-Rattle/Field Scabious. The flowers will grow when the paper is planted and watered.

"Kelp Papers"
Kelp was traditionally collected from two areas in Durness Parish, the stony beaches of Geodha Brat and Burragaig. Kelpers worked on these shores from the 1760’s to the 1940’s. Kelp was dried, then burnt before being sold. Burnt kelp was an ingredient for making glass and soap. Kelpers wages were between £1 and £3 per ton. These papers are 1m long andmade from kelp collected on Burragaig beach, mixed with linen rag with embossed words.

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