Intro —In April 2017 two women, two bicycles packed with essentials and a willingness to explore the world will start a long journey tracing the history of paper. Jack Blake and Barbara Salvadori will begin their journey from Lille in France, heading south towards Italy and eastwards along a section of the paper road (Silk Road). The aim for this research project is to undergo a year long overland expedition on bicycles with the aspiration to retrace some of the merchants’ paper routes and trading posts. This will include exploring past and present paper mills, discovering the historical aspects and connecting with contemporary papermaking and book/paper artists throughout the journey.
Route —The route will converge on some of the important places from the history of paper, both in Europe and Central, South East Asia via slow travel and women pedal-power. The aim is to re-trace some of the paper trades routes, undertake a paper making workshop in Samarkand (where a craftsman has revived a 2,000 year old paper production technique using mulberry bark) and continue the narrative into China.
Methods—Cycling in search of the past paper routes and both historical and present production mills, Jack and Barbara intend to collect and respond to paper and printed matter found along their route. These responses will include documentation (photography, film, drawings, printing) and ways to collate and bind the materials. Their intention is to meet, artists, historians, crafts people and any creative who is involved with this unique material that changed human history. Records of these discoveries will be kept in digital and paper form – shared first through a blog and after the adventure, through further dissemination.
Background—Jack and Barbara have vast experience working in the fields of graphic design, book arts, printmaking and sustainability. They have both been employed at London College of Communication (formerly LCP) for many years and have undertaken several research projects together, delving into sustainability and the environment. Barbara is from Italy and has lived, studied and worked in the UK since 1999. Jack is from the UK and studied, worked and lived in London since 1987. They are both well-travelled and utilise their experiences as a form of inspiration for their work. During the past 2 years they have set up The Shipping Press; a small design, print and book arts studio which has produced work inspired by its riverside and industrial location.
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