T Turns 1: Paper’s Performance

What better way to celebrate our first birthday than through the art world and the medium which brings print to life: paper.

Article by Jordan Turner

T Australia Turns 1Artwork by Leo Greenfield for T: Paper's Performance. Drawing and watercolour on paper.

In celebration of our first birthday at T Australia, we are honouring the medium that brings our print magazine to life. Paper has the ability to be transformed into anything. In print, our pages come to life with words, images and colour. In the art world, the possibilities are endless.

We asked six artists and creatives based in Sydney to create an artwork that celebrates paper, on paper, or using paper. The works explore the theme of first experiences. When weaved together, this collection is a performance of communication with paper and print. 

T Australia Turns 1
Artwork by Liz Peniazeva for T: Paper's Performance. Collage on paper, utilising found clippings.

Liz Peniazeva’s work is both a sentimental and structured celebration of collage as an art form which, as she describes it, is “painting with paper.”

As a teenager, Liz was always holding on to discarded papers, remnants of posters from the street, found photographs and pages from old books and magazines. “There was something almost historical and sentimental about this material that I wanted to preserve,” says Liz, who appreciates the tactility of creating with paper. “I still feel this when I find an interesting piece of paper. I want to honour the memory within it by giving it a new life and audience.”

Inspired by the imagery that the eye and mind can choose at any particular moment, Liz’s practice is an intuitive process. “There is a magical sense of chance in collage and a special kind of beauty in the process of deconstruction and reconstruction,” says Liz.

T Australia Turns 1
T Australia Turns 1
T Australia Turns 1
Artwork by Chanel Tobler for T: Paper's Performance. Pastels on paper.

Artist Chanel Tobler, whose works sing with rich and vibrant colours with pastels, leans on paper first and often last as a material. “It feels the most direct and immediate way to convey what I need to release. It has become a place I feel safest to say everything I need to,” says Chanel.

“Paper has a capability and tenderness to house the most private feelings and is versatile enough to bear the loudest emotions,” Chanel explains. “It facilities both drawing and writing for me and as such is the material that lies at the cornerstone from which all my other techniques and mediums spring forth.”

From looking at Chanel’s work, it is clear that paper is something intimate and textured in her practice. “I have over the years developed a great understanding of how paper works and how I can work it,” Chanel tells T. “So much so that it has become my most defining material to work with.”

T Australia Turns 1
Time Travel, words by Miriam Hechtman, calligraphy by Vanessa Opazo, for T: Paper's Performance.

Miriam Hechtman, poet and founder of poetry evening Poetica, and Vanessa Opazo, architect and calligraphy artist, worked together on this artwork for T’s Paper’s Performance. Miriam wrote an original poem titled, Time Travel, and Vanessa brought it to life with calligraphy on paper. 

Like many writers and poets, putting pen to paper has been Miriam’s invitation to explore her inner world. Inside that world, poetry was her chance to disobey punctuation and play with form, sound and rhythm. “I’ve written poems since childhood but in 2015 I returned to writing poetry regularly as a way to rescue a friendship that was on the rocks,” Miriam recalls. “We couldn’t communicate without conflict so we turned to poetry.”

In Time Travel, Miriam alliterates using the letter T to celebrate our magazine. When asked about what that poem looked like on paper: “I handwrite my poems in my sunrise poetry writing group and really enjoy the slowness, the physicality and the space handwriting offers. The crossing out of words. The journey of the poem is transparent.”

Vanessa was mesmerised by the act of calligraphy and wanted to master it herself. “The smell of ink, the scratchy sound of the friction between the pen and my textured paper. It all adds to the magic of calligraphy,” says Vanessa. “It makes time stop around you. It is just your tools and you breathing out words onto your paper.”

As both an architect and calligraphy artist, Vanessa is used to switching up the scales of paper on which she works. From the giant rolls of paper filled with plans for a new building to the tiny place cards that house names of guests for dinner parties, the potential of what a blank page can be continues to inspire her.

“I love sitting in front of a blank piece of paper. So many possibilities,” explains Vanessa. “Working with paper has taught me to be more courageous. To dare a bit more often. You can always grab a new piece of paper and start all over again if you mess up.”

T Australia Turns 1
Artwork by Leo Greenfield for T: Paper's Performance. Drawing and watercolour on paper, in a flipbook animation story.
T Australia Turns 1
Artwork by Leo Greenfield for T: Paper's Performance. Drawing and watercolour on paper, in a flipbook animation story.

Leo Greenfield’s drawings colour in the lines of his daily experiences on paper. Whether it’s a depiction of someone he’s seen whilst wondering Bronte, the latest look from a Miu Miu show at Paris Fashion Week, or musings on a current global issue expressed through his iconic cat artworks.

The ability to communicate emotions and feelings through drawing is what connected Leo to working with paper. “The paper is even more important than the paint or inks. The paper really dictates what you make,” he says.

To Leo, paper is a luxury item that holds power in memories: “Letter writing was what first connected me to its value and effect. Since I was very small my grandparents sent me letters in the post, we exchanged so much that way as we lived apart, the letters were filled with drawings and writing and cutouts from magazines. We carried on the tradition well into my 30s and they are so precious to me. I try to carry on this effect in my artwork. I want each piece to feel like a letter, especially sent on paper via the old fashioned post.”

T Australia Turns 1
Artwork by Midori Furze for T: Paper's Performance. Handpainted origami roses from Japanese washi paper.

Midori Furze has created an origami artwork for T Australia. Each origami rose was made one-by-one using Japanese washi paper and then handpainted with traditional Japanese pigment.

Origami is something Midori has loved since she was a little girl living in Japan. When she moved to Australia, the very first thing she reconnected with was origami. Now she creates origami artworks and holds workshops for wedding anniversaries; paper being the traditional gift for a first wedding anniversary. 

Paper is a canvas to create, a page to write on. It is a medium to cut, fold and reinvent. Whatever the way you choose to tell the story you want to share, we can all connect with one thing. The act of holding that piece of paper in front of you and watching ideas come to life. That is the paper’s performance.

A version of this article appears on our Instagram page in celebration of our first birthday: Follow us on Instagram