In October 2016, Jersey became the next stop in a touring exhibition by Professor Xiaoguang Qiao and Karen Bit Vejle. The renowned artists were invited by ArtHouse Jersey to bring their internationally celebrated exhibition ‘Paper Dialogues – The Dragon and Our Stories’ over to Jersey for its British debut. The exhibition was installed in a purpose-built gallery space in the Town Hall of the island’s capital St Helier.
During the exhibition’s two-week run in Jersey, over 5,000 people, including over 600 students, came to view the work, which proved to be a huge source of inspiration for islanders. However, this was only the beginning of the paper-cutting legacy that lives on in the Island since the exhibition. ArtHouse Jersey was able to keep the dialogue alive through an Island-wide initiative they called the ‘Paper Talks’ Project.
When in Jersey, Professor Xiaoguang Qiao and Karen Bit Vejle ran a series of master-classes to train seven Jersey artists in psaligraphy. The local artists in the masterclasses then taught community workshops with local school children and members of the public, including charities, care homes and clubs. The workshop participants were taught to create egg-shaped paper-cuts that would eventually become the scales of a community ‘Paper Dragon’ sculpture in the Spring of 2017. The results were spectacular with a wide range of styles, patterns and arrangements coming through in the end results. The finished sculpture was suspended within the central atrium space in the Jersey Library throughout that summer.
Fast forward from the summer of 2017 to 2018 and Karen Bit Vejle announced that the ‘Paper Dialogues’ exhibition that came to Jersey in October 2016 -would now be exhibited in March 2019 in Denmark and invited ArtHouse Jersey to add Jersey’s own paper art to the exhibition. In order to capture Jersey and its community, along with the legacy that had been started with the original Paper Dialogues exhibition in 2016, ArtHouse Jersey commissioned two exceptional Jersey artists, Emma Reid and Layla May Arthur, to each create their own paper representation of our Island, forming our very own ‘dragon’. These works speak of our history and folklore, along with the produce, landscape, traditions and people that make the Island what it is today.
Layla May Arthur’s work ‘Jersey; My Childhood Home’ will be displayed alongside ‘Hoard’, by Emma Reid, as part Paper Dialogues exhibition at The Papirkunst Centre in Blokhus, Denmark from 22nd March 2019 – 22nd September 2019.