Navigating the Paper Studio with Jackie Partridge

June 22, 2018 by


An artwork utilizing a found map of Canada and handmade paper by artist Jackie Partridge.

Soon after viewing the handmade paper of Studio Workspace Resident Jackie Partridge, I became very aware of the straight lines humans work so hard to draw on the Earth. Sidewalks, grates in a drain, lane lines, shapes of buildings and bridges, even sheets of paper. And though they are tolerated for a while, it is clear that the natural world shifts and subverts those lines. The earth pushes up against and cracks the sidewalk, water drips down to grow stalactites on the arches of bridges, puddles blot out the edges of the road. Jackie’s use of the paper slurry, the sloshing vat of recycled and beaten paper, to reorganize maps of Ontario and other parts of Canada feels to me like an ode to this inevitable truth.

Read a bit of our conversation about her time at the Women’s Studio Workshop, utilizing chance, and the future of maps below.

Handmade paper by Studio Workspace Resident Jackie Partridge.

CR: I am very excited about the work you’ve been doing with maps in the paper studio at WSW. Can you talk a little about the process here? I’m thinking about the pieces with gridlike sewing, removal, and patching of sections of Ontario and other places in Canada.

In process artwork utilizing a map of Canada by artist Jackie Partridge.JP: The sewn grid maps were made towards the end of my residency. I sewed on found maps along the latitudinal and longitudinal lines to create the grid. The found maps are from Ontario where I am from and maps of Canada. I began to wet the map in areas and remove pieces. The sewn lines itself act as a constraint but also as something for the section of map to grip onto. In a recent series since my residency, I have removed areas of towns/cities I have visited.

CR: In some sense, maps are meaning-making objects. They attempt to define and categorize land and waterways, and we accept them as fact. They section us off from one another, creating and supporting the defense of these arbitrary lines. Though the natural world is always shifting, and we are seeing more and more of that with sea level rise, increasingly wild storms, and land loss from human intervention.

JP: I enjoy the unexpected and the concept of chance. I relate chance to nature itself. Nature can be Handmade paper in a mould and deckle.unpredictable. At times nature can be resilient like a tree growing through cement but at the same time, it is something fragile that benefits from protection and nurturing. In recent work and while on my residency walking along the Rail Trail I would insert pulp from found maps into spots of the tree where bark has peeled away as a form of mending or offering of the paper back to the tree. Every tree is different so one installation of pulp is different from the next. This ongoing project is very much rooted in chance and change. I like being able to blend the found maps through the papermaking process because each time it is different. I am letting chance decide and create the way that land has been politically divided and in this way it singles change of place or environment even in the future. So many qualities of the map are recognizable like colours, lines, and symbols so there’s an immediate connection of place, time and the map.

In progress artwork by Women's Studio Workshop resident Jackie Partridge.

CR: The defining and storytelling nature of maps gives us the opportunity to create new narratives and tell the stories we need to hear about the Earth.  What stories do you think maps tell?

JP: By working with paper maps I am referencing ideas of memory, time, the nostalgia of going on a long road trip for example. Maps have already changed so much within the last few decades. Paper maps are a material that is hard to find. More maps are becoming digital and with technology maps and mapping are constantly changing. When I’m working with maps I’m thinking about how long it takes for a map to become out of date?

Jackie Partridge is from the small town of Wellesley, ON, Canada. She completed her MFA in Fibres and Material Practices at Concordia University specializing in papermaking in Montreal, QC in 2018. Partridge graduated from Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, ON in 2015 where she finished with her Honours Bachelor of Fine arts, specializing in painting and drawing and her Honours Bachelor of Education. Partridge has exhibited her work throughout Canada. See more of Jackie’s work on her website.