Rock, paper, scissors (or scalpel)…. and water. Sean Harris at Wells and Mendip Museum

Two pages from the flipbook box ‘minema’ shown at the top of my last post; animated hyaena, hyaena teeth from the Hyaena Den, Wookey and marine oxygen isotope graph


Here is a particularly pleasing circular narrative;

I have used Somerset paper – made in Wookey – to ‘re-animate’ prehistoric bones from the Hyaena Den and…

(wait for it…)

…the self-same hyaena bones were discovered in the mid 19th century – in the course of works to create a new water supply for the paper mill!

Mind boggling. Or I thought so anyway. The water of the River Axe is the common denominator here – I wonder if a mill wheel could power a giant flipbook-box?!! Hmmm… food for thought…

Paper, paper-cutting and printing are all absolutely central to my installation for the Balch Room. And this seems really apt as paper has been made in and around Wookey, just outside Wells, for centuries.

There were two paper mills, Wookey Hole and St. Cuthbert’s – the latter of which is still working today. I used their Somerset Enhanced archival inkjet paper to make the flip-book pages inside the machines. It’s incredibly strong and resilient – as it has to be to survive the buffeting it gets as it rotates inside the box at great speed to make the creatures run along for the viewer/operator.

hyaena FBBpages
24 pages from the same flipbook-box printed on Somerset paper; all cut out, mounted on recycled bicycle spokes and ready to go…

Here are some other paper-powered aspects of the process…

mammoth print
Collagraph mammoth animation artwork drying…
paper holes
Aching hands! Holes left in a sheet by scalpel-cut hyaena components…
hyaena plate detail
Components stuck down onto collagraph plate – detail showing surface texture inspired by bones
assembled hyaena
Cut up collagraph print; partially assembled hyaena puppet
Coprolite universe: two flip-book pages from ‘The Conflicting Universes of the Rev. Dr. Buckland’ with animated hyaenas, their teeth and fossilised poo (the ‘sun’ at the centre!)
printed pages
Cottage industry: MANY pages awaiting cutting… (aching hands again!)