Friday, 27 January 2012

Mulberry, Cotton and Fig

It must have been nearly two years ago when I got an email from Seppo Hallavanio from the Rock Art Conservation Center (RACC) in Arusha asking me something about printing with ink jet on hand made papers. At that time I had already printed on just about any thing I could find that would pass through the paper feed of my two Epson printers - the Stylus Pro 7800 and the 9880.
photo: seppo hallavainio
I was used to problem solving thick media, lumpy media, asymmetric metal sheets, really thin papers and synthetics as well as over printing and combining print with mixed media including chalk, inks and acrylic paints.

An ink jet printer is a highly sophisticated piece of precision equipment, and not something you want to mess around with - especially as an inappropriate choice of settings or thoughtless move can lead to an expensive repair. Having said that - in all the years I've been abusing these machines I've never once had to call out a technician to repair a mistake I've made. Touch wood.

photo: seppo hallavainio
Seppo is a paper maker, probably one of the best hand made paper makers from Finland, and since moving to Tanzania more than 10 years ago has involved himself in projects concerned with a variety of artistic and socioeconomically linked projects that are making an impact on communities in and around Arusha in northern Tanzania. So, to cut a very long story short (and one you can read in more detail here) we decided that a project that brought both our skills together in an environment not normally associated with ink jet printers, we could develop something that could benefit the local community by tapping into the incredibly rich and varied legacy of the Rock Art of the Kondoa UNESCO World Heritage Site.

photo: seppo hallavainio
And so the ball started rolling. At Photokina 2010 in Köln I presented the idea to Epson and with their generous help and enthusiasm have managed to equip the RACC with the tools to print on papers made locally from readily available vegetation - mulberry, cotton and fig. On February 8th I'll drop into Arusha for three weeks and run a series of workshops for professional photographers, amateurs, paper makers, local school children and - well anyone with a passion for Rock Art and Print. If you're in or around Arusha, join us at the Arusha Masai Cafe Pemba Road, Arusha P.O.BOX 2288, Tanzania.






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