Home' Scoop Homes and Art : Insite 23 Summer 2009 Contents INSITE SUMMER 97
Paperclay and compressed paper are
Graham Hay's preferred materials,
but watch he doesn't pinch your
pen when an alternative medium
Graham believes anything can be turned
into sculpture -- and he has fun testing his
theory. He laughs aloud when you gasp at a
golden tower made of sliced bread, stacked
and saturated in timber lacquer.
Next he plonks a concave vessel on the
table beside you. It rises in tiers of glassy
tubes with cores of red, green and blue,
and the rim has tapering spires. en he flips
it upside-down and it becomes a
Yet actually it's just
thousands of dirt-cheap
ballpoint pens stuck together
with plumber's glue.
However, it's his
paperclay skills that have
earned Graham a reputation
nationally and overseas.
In recent years he's been
invited to run workshops in
Canada, Turkey, Lithuania,
Hungary, Norway, New
Zealand, Singapore and Pakistan.
In early 2010, he's making his third visit
to the US to teach at the first American
paperclay conference in California and
co-organise the second international
paperclay symposium. So, what is so great
"If you break whatever you're working on
you can repair it," says Graham, knocking
a cup against a shelf and snapping a chunk.
"You just put some slip -- liquid paperclay --
on the edges and stick it back together."
Paperclay is recyclable. Graham points to
his bucket of "failures" -- he usually makes
a prototype followed by several versions
as he refines a design. Add warm water to
the failures and half an hour later you have
liquid which then returns to plasticity.
"Paperclay is also easier for beginners
because you don't have to worry about
air bubbles," explains Graham, who runs
classes at the Robertson Park Artists Studio
"With conventional clay, beginners often
have problems wedging it enough to get the
bubbles out -- then the air expands during
firing and 'bang'. Normal
clay also shrinks as it dries,
so it warps more,"
"Although less than
10 percent of paperclay is
paper, the paper radically
alters the clay. e cellulose
fibres reinforce it so that
you get less cracking."
e biggest advantage
is that moist paperclay can
be joined to dry paperclay.
With conventional clay, if practitioners leave
a piece for a day they have to abandon it
because fresh clay won't bond to clay that
Traditionally ceramic items have always
been glazed and fired, but Graham has a
healthy disrespect for rigid rules.
It began at art school when he challenged
the requirement to glaze and fire objects
intended for decorative use only.
"If you're not going to eat off it why do I
Paperclay master Graham Hay challenges artistic rules with his belief
anything -- even an annual report or pens -- can be turned into a
T E X T: Julia Berney PORTRAIT: Robyn Camerer IMAGES: Victor France
PAPER NOT SO PLAIN: Graham Hay with Loose Links I,
purchased by Anadolu Universit y, Turkey. Vortex, ceramic
earthenware and terracotta paperclay. (opposite)
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