QEST partners with the Hub to launch new paper exhibition

17th June 2024

S Blackwell 2

QEST has partnered with the Hub, Sleaford to develop a programme of activities that will sit alongside an exciting new exhibition, celebrating craft skills in paper making, conservation and artistry.

The ‘Paperwork’ exhibition is a showcase of the work of 13 QEST Scholars who use paper as a primary medium or as an intrinsic part of their process.

It opens to the public in the Main Gallery of the Hub on 20 July and will run until 17 November.

The following QEST Scholars are taking part:

  • Angela Fung
  • Edward Cheese
  • Felicity Bristow 
  • Jonathan Wright 
  • Kate Colin
  • Kate Rochester 
  • Katie Beard
  • Kendall Clarke 
  • Lucy May Schofield 
  • Mandy Coppes-Martin 
  • Razwan Ul-Haq
  • Sam Newby 
  • Su Blackwell 

The exhibition will also incorporate paper masterpieces made by a group of local young people from Feathers Teens, a charity that supports the neurodivergent and mental health wellbeing of teenagers in Lincolnshire.

Leading into the launch, they will work closely with QEST Alumni Kate Colin to develop their own artwork and develop craft skills.

QEST Alumni Kate Colin teaching paper folding to a young person from Feathers Teens

This is a rare opportunity for these young people to work with an artist leading their field, to develop a high level of craft skill, and to have their work displayed in a local gallery on equal terms to craftspeople from across the UK.

The project will also have a longer-term effect by encouraging teamwork, increasing confidence and developing social skills. The group will have the opportunity to learn first-hand about careers in craft and making, both from the craftspeople supported by QEST, and also from volunteers from local manufacturers, studios, and artists.

Q&A with an exhibiting maker

Razwan Ul-Haq is a Nastaliq calligrapher and a 2022 QEST Scholar based in West Yorkshire – he’s one of Scholars who will be displaying work at the exhibition.

QEST sat down with Razwan to talk all things calligraphy and what he’s created for the exhibition.

QEST: Can you explain how paper plays a central role in your craft? 

Razwan: I’m an Arabic calligrapher and specialise in Nastaliq calligraphy. I make my own bamboo pens and mix my own ink.

I coat paper using resources like rice starch, potato starch and egg whites. The paper has to be really smooth to ensure that the movement from the nib of the bamboo is picked up on the paper. I work with a natural pigments and with pens made from sharpening bamboo. You can’t separate the paper from the pen, the two perform a tango.

How did you become inspired to try calligraphy?

I was about eight years old when I learned what calligraphy was. My uncle was a professional scribe and he came to visit us and I was just shocked at how good his hand writing was – I’d never come across anything like it. My mum ordered some boards, ink and pens and that was it. I’ve been lucky enough to be taught by some of the best calligraphers during my career.

What work are you creating for the Paperwork exhibition?

I’ve been experimenting adding English script to Arabic calligraphy for decades now and I’ve never achieved it. But I have finally pioneered a new technique for using traditional Arabic Calligraphy, where I use wax resist on my artwork, allowing the calligraphy to stay on the foreground and the wax resist on the background. So essentially, I’m adding English letters in without them taking over the whole piece. I’ve never seen anyone else do this and I’m looking forward to exhibiting this new technique.

I’ll be exhibiting six works for the exhibition with different sayings in Arabic.

I am looking forward to exhibiting with some amazing QEST Scholars and that’s always a buzz. I encourage the local community to come and check out the exhibition – it’s one not to be missed!

Other events not to miss during the exhibition:

Exhibition Preview of Paperwork – Friday 19 July, 6-8pm

Join in the opening celebration of ‘Paperwork’. Meet the curatorial team and artists and enjoy a welcome drink and light refreshments. The event is free and everyone is welcome.

Paperwork Artist Talk – Saturday 20 July, 11am-12pm

Hear from members of the QEST and Hub teams as well as the QEST Alumni involved in the exhibition. The event is free and everyone is welcome.

Arabic Nastaliq Calligraphy workshop with Razwan Ul-Haq – Saturday 14 September, 11am-1pm

Participants will be introduced to letters and the tools that are used, including the raw materials
used in making ink and sizing paper. You will then have a hands-on session using bamboo pens, hand-mixed ink and specialist paper. The workshop is £45 per person and bookings are essential: https://hub-sleaford.org.uk/events

Paper Sculpture workshop with Su Blackwell – Saturday 5 October, 10.30am-4pm

In this unique workshop you will create your own paper sculpture displayed inside a box frame. Choose a single rose, shoe, shirt, key or doll and learn how to manipulate the pattern to create your sculpture. Bring your own paper (letters, maps, or pages of a book) to make a keepsake for you, or a special present for a loved one. This workshop is £75 per person and applicable to those aged 16 and above. Bookings are essential: https://hub-sleaford.org.uk/events

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