Setting the Scene
Since moving to Ireland 5 years ago, my main aims as a paper arts educator have been to improve my practice and raise the profile of the medium of paper making in Ireland.
The art of contemporary paper making is a growing artistic medium through out of the USA and much of Europe, yet not much is known about it in Ireland. As a medium it is extremely versatile, as it lends itself to a variety of treatments and uses. Paper pulps can be created by any fibres that yield cellulose including numerous indigenous plants and seed heads e.g. bog rushes, flax, straw, wheat, thistle down, artichoke down. These pulps can then be used as paint, or poured over screens to create large pieces, or used to cast objects, sculpted.
As Arts in residence for the Castlecomer Community Art projects ‘Layers & Imprints’ (jointly funded by Kilkenny County Council ‘Percent for Arts’, and BNS Leader) I began to realize some of these aims. In order to facilitate the project some of the funding was used to purchase a specialized piece of paper making equipment that enables a variety of fibres to be beaten in different ways.
This machine (shown above) is called a ‘Peter Beater’. Based on the original Hollander Beater, this machine was designed by Dutch paper artist Peter Genenaar in order to allow him to beat raw fibres without clogging the blades of the mill. This machine enables fibres to be beaten to a fine consistency.
During the year long residency I worked with several community groups in Caslecomer creating handmade paper pieces that ranged from Book Works to Wearable hand made costumes.
Sing the experiment gained from the ‘Layers & Imprints’ residency as a starting point, the aim of the Kilkenny County Council Arts Development Residency was to facilitate more in depth research and experimentation with the ‘Peter Beater’ machine in order to further extend this innovative art form beyond the usual 2 dimensional form.

I set myself the aim of looking at the following areas:
• Size, shapes and structure
• Effect of light
• Texture
• Movement
• Sound

In order to do this I had to first experiment with a range of different fibres and methods of preparation and document these. The idea being that findings from these experiments would be the starting point for bigger pieces. But first I had to set up the studio !!