On being an exhibitionist

5 fold dog

5 fold dog

I’m sat at my desk, preparing models for my trip to Mumbai next week, as guest of Origami Mitra. They have asked me to bring enough models for two large tables! I don’t know if other creators have a similar problem, but when the spotlight swings onto my work, my critical faculties go into overdrive.

I look through my 300 odd original designs, trying to decide which are good enough to present. Sadly, the more  look at a design, the less I generally think of it. Having identified a few likely subjects, I make them, look at them and think “I’d better fold them all again”.

Repeated folds later, I begin to fall pray to “origamic satiation” (semantic origins here). The more I fold it, the less meaning it has and it degenerates into a few creases in a sheet of paper, with the unavoidable imperfections shining like little beacons. Perhaps this is inevitable when you focus so much on technique and not on emotion. The trouble is, I rarely fold my models for pleasure(!) and so the finesse that repeated folding usually brings is often lacking. However, the necessity of producing sufficient work that the tables don’t look too empty doesn’t allow the time and relaxation required to reach this folding nirvana.

Lang's spider, probably more than 5 folds...

Lang's spider, probably more than 5 folds...

I may well be simply “fretting abart nowt” as we say in Yorkshire, but any exhibition should reflect the finest work you can produce, if at all possible. As luck(?) would have it, when I’m invited to overseas conventions, it’s often part of a pairing with another, almost inevitably “more complex” folder. In France it was with Satoshi Kamiya. In Italy, Robert Lang. In India, it will be with John Montroll.

My work is usually on a table next to my fellow guest and try as you might, comparisons are impossible to avoid. I look at the towering examples of origami technique on the adjacent table, then look at my “bear climbing a tree” or “5 fold dog” and it takes a lot of restraint not to pack them back into their boxes!

Audiences, in general, are impressed by complexity and not by subtlety or conceptual elegance. Lacking the righteous confidence of a trained artist, I therefore have to develop a thick skin when placing my models on display! Still, a creative muse must be guiding my way and I have to have faith. My folding, like my music,  has striven towards simplicity for many years and I’m not so fond of praise that I’m going to change now ;)


Comments

On being an exhibitionist — 4 Comments

  1. Comforting to know that it isn’t just mere mortals like me who worry about what to put on an exhibition table!
    Although complex models do draw the crowds, as a folder, I prefer to look at the ones which don’t rely on endless base shaping but just seem to pop out of the paper, as if they’ve been waiting to be discovered. Just as much technique is required: the fewer the steps, the more visible the design errors. A perfect example of a good one would be your Box from ‘The Biggest Ever Book of Origami’. Definately take that one to Mumbai and keep the Faith.

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