Helsingin Paperipaja (eng. Helsinki Paperworkshop) is an association founded in 2019 and situated in the artist quarters in Roihupelto in Helsinki. The story of the association began when the artist Emma Peura got the opportunity to purchase a Hollander beater, a pulp-making machine. Emma started to look for paper-minded company and found five colleagues interested in papermaking. Together they founded the association and in the beginning of 2020 they found a location for their workshop. Besides Emma, the other members of the association are the visual artists Maria Valkeavuolle, Outi Koivisto, Susanna Autio, Astri Laitinen ja Irma Tonteri. During Konstrundan at least two members will always be present in the workshop. Emma, Maria and Outi also have their studios in conjunction with the paper workshop and during Konstrundan their studios will be open to the public as well.
Even though Helsingin Paperipaja consists of six artist members, the association is not-for-profit and open to anyone interested in ecological art and handicrafts. It’s the only one of its kind in Helsinki and there hasn’t been any similar activity in the capital for 20 years. The closest paper workshop is in Lahti. As soon as the corona situation allows, Helsingin paperipaja will hold papermaking classes. One of the aims of the workshop is to maintain the craft of papermaking and to begin with teaching at least western paper making for anyone interested in the craft. At the moment the workshop is only holding short papermaking inductions to artists already familiar with papermaking. Irma Tonteri has been making paper for a long time and has been all the way to Nepal and Japan to learn papermaking, so it’s possible there will be a wider selection of papermaking classes in the future.
Besides offering classes the founding members have their own research project, Kuitulaboratorio (eng. Fiber laboratory). The aim of the lab is to look for domestic materials suitable for paper-making, but it is not only focusing on the making of paper and to have a contemporary artistic expression and to research paper art in a wider context. Maria Valkeavuolle has a background in video- and sound art and she brings the association a more conceptual approach to paper.
-I’m interested in papermaking as an event and for example the sound of linen paper, Maria tells. Together the members want to contemplate what paper is and what it could be and what the role of paper is in a more and more digitalised world.
Even though all the members have their own artistic careers and relationships to paper, they also do things together. They try to share responsibility in the workshop equally, but taking each other's life-situations in consideration. Besides Kuitulaboratorio, they are also planning other collaborative projects and have applied for exhibition time for a shared paper art exhibition in 2022. You can get a taste of this during Konstrundan, when the members will hang a paper art exhibition in the workshop. In the exhibition you will be introduced to the artists’ work as well as papermaking and there will be different papermaking fibers on show.
-For example an old pair of jeans, nettles, willow, asparagus peels and rhubarb can become paper, Outi tells.
Besides this the audience will get a chance to try papermaking during Konstrundan. There will be readymade paper pulp that the visitors can try to make paper out of. The artists’ work will be for sale as well as a small batch of handmade paper. What this paper will be made out of is not yet decided.
You can visit the Paperipaja during the Konstrundan weekend, September 4 - 5 from 11:00 to 17:00.
Text: Ida Taavitsainen
Foto: Minna Kurjenluoma