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In a world of instant messaging and video calls, what is the use of paper anymore? The texture of an embossed card from a far-away loved one, the smell of a favourite book, the heavy thud of dictionary covers falling open at precisely the correct page. As a publisher and lover of the printed word, we may be biased – but over us and our people, paper still holds a sensual and emotional power.

Is it then any wonder that Paper City is an exhibition that really speaks to us as a spatial design magazine? Together with G . F Smith, a century-old creative paper company, eight leading UK creatives came together to create an exhibition of colourful paper installations in various locations throughout the city of Hull. Informed by the fields of contemporary art, architecture and design, the temporary artworks range from enormous sculptures to cut paper designs – all made with G . F Smith’s Colorplan range.

Apeiron Flow by Adam Holloway
Capturing the expressive potentiality of paper, Holloway applies principles from nature in the construction of Apeiron Flow. Inspired by the way plants grow ruffles and folds to increase the stiffness and surface area of their leaves, the Holloway and his team developed an algorithm for the 120-cubic-metre paper structure, which is able to support its own weight. The expansive and fluid installation has an organic feel, with an intricate form that invites exploration and examination from all angles.

Island Life by Jacqueline Poncelet
Poncelet’s installation is similar in that regard. The many-faceted stars in Island Life hide surprising colours behind the different perspectives that unfold as you walk between the islands. Poncelet makes use of the entire Colorplan colour range, cutting and folding the paper to create dimensions of colour that shift like reflections on the surface of water. If Poncelet’s stars are the water, are viewers the islands? Developed in full on Poncelet’s studio floor, Island Life was then disassembled and recreated especially for the exhibition space.

35,000 gsm by Max Lamb
The acronym in the title refers to the installation’s grammage – the weight of paper expressed as grams per square metre. Inspired by his visit to G . F Smith’s facility and by their laminating process, Lamb embraces standard stock paper sizes and weights to create a range of ‘furniture’.

35,000 gsm reveals Lamb’s fascination with manufacturing systems and formats, as the designer builds the stool from three reams of A4 paper, a side table from A3 paper, a console table out of A2 paper, and a dining table for two using A1 paper.

Local Fish by Lazerian
Manchester-based designer Liam Hopkins turns fish and chips – a prosaic but perennial crowd favourite – into a two-pronged installation. The four-metre anatomical paper model of a cod fish first strikes the eye; a colossal sculpture that showcases the range of Colorplan not just in terms of colour, but also in thickness and finish, with leather embossed papers giving the fish its scaly exterior, and softer papers in vibrant colours used to mould the interior organs.

The second aspect of the installation is a fish-and-chips food truck – actually Lazerian’s mobile studio – which sells paper fish and chips, handmade ‘fresh’ each day of the exhibition. The installation references Hull’s fishing heritage, celebrating its present and historical relationship with the humble cod fish.

The Fabric of Hull by Made Thought
Made Thought also pays tribute to Hull’s identity and history in the bright paper tapestry The Fabric of Hull, handwoven by G . F Smith employees. The nine-metre-long tapestry, made with all 50 colours of the Colorplan range, represents the way the history of Hull is bound together with G . F Smith, and the impact the company has had on the city and the local community over the past 130 years as one of the largest employers in Hull.

Visit the website for more information on these and the other Paper City installations: Richard Woods’ architectural intervention that makes a statement about urban redevelopment and growth by building paper brick ‘walls’; Joanna Sands’ exploration of the way light plays with the gentle curves of paper and the water, clouds, and landscape of Hull; and Bethan Laura Wood’s whimsical Seaweed Kites.

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