How the recent paper works, and bronzes came into being — Louise Forthun, 2022

My art practice has been primarily concerned with the dynamism of architectural space. Created by spraying aerosol paint through handmade paper stencils, the canvasses convey abstract representations of the built environment. Melbourne, the city where I live and other cities I have spent time in, are seen obliquely from above or below. They became subject matter, reasoning that this method was a way to create a type of portrait, a mapping of a woman’s life as she moved through the city. 

During the process of making the paintings, tangles of paper stencils piled up in the studio as they were removed, dripping with paint, from the painting’s surface. Days were spent untangling, wiping, drying, and mending tears, so that the stencil could be reattached to the surface to create a new layer. It was during the motion of attaching, spraying, removing, cleaning, and fixing that I began to imagine a more direct creation of a three-dimensional paper object. 

Just before the pandemic I visited Tokyo to renew my interest in both the urban landscape and the wonderful Japanese art and craft traditions. On my return the sudden and forced isolation of the 2020 lockdown enabled me to work alone for longer, uninterrupted periods, allowing intense scrutiny and play. 

During this time, I was able to develop a new trajectory to my practice where I found myself crushing, folding, and pressing paper into tight forms. The forms were then released and gently pulled apart to become an almost flat crumpled form. I was presented with an intriguing set of folds and patterns which communicated a variety of imagined landforms and structures reminiscent of topological views. Masking certain areas, I began to apply layers of colour to the textured paper illuminating the surface. 

Wishing to emphasise the sculptural form of the crumpled paper, I began to experiment with ways to make a model for casting. After painting multiple layers of wax onto the paper’s surface, this model or carapace was taken to the foundry where the ‘lost-wax’ bronze technique was set in motion. The result is a solid, exact bronze replica of the waxed paperwork. Some sculptures stand vertically, hovering low in front of a small supporting base while others are presented horizontally on a plinth and are supported by a post from behind. 

The relationship between the paper works and the sculptures – their fragility and strength refer to the idea of the city, where the city is represented by a screen of intersecting horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines jangling together and apart, inviting us in. The crushed and folded paper works, and the more solid, pleated, and crinkled sculptures are little essences of the wider city panorama.

November 2022