Humble paper is seeing a renaissance as an art material in its own right, starring in a number of recent exhibitions, including the Festival of Paper at a Stoke Newington gallery, BHVU.

Paper art can be traced back to Japan, where people were folding paper over a thousand years ago. Festival of Paper shows the various ways paper can be transformed – from complex paper cutting, folding and embossing to collages and huge paper sculptures.

The exhibition brings together three London-based artists who have a very different understanding of the subtleties of paper.

Lynn Hatzius captures the playfulness, excitement and fluidity of a process in her paper collages. Disparate pieces featuring people, architectural elements or bits of landscape are cut, reassembled and juxtaposed until they reveal a new meaning to seemingly unrelated subjects. Her Bird Head – a fantastical collaged head piece vaguely resembling antlers – was worn at the show opening by Wen Wu.

Two big pieces immediately catch the viewer’s eye when they enter the gallery. Fiona Hepburn’s enormous, intricately cut paper tree (entitled Sea lung) leans against a wall. She reproduces organic formations in paper, working with found materials and often magnifying surfaces. “Watching a work in progress by Hepburn is like watching the cells multiply of growing mould,” says the curator, Charlotte Lindsay.

And a big roll of black waxed paper placed in the middle of the room, partially unfolded, transforms the flimsy material into a chunky sculpture.

The artist, Mildred Rambaud, also does a performance, ‘Porter Papier Ciré (To carry waxed paper) where she animates a large sheet of pleated paper, which has been stiffened with thin layers of wax to create something like a fan. The pleated paper sometimes dictates her movements and at other times is silently led, folding and unfolding through the space to cello music.

Her piece ‘Resting Mountains’ creates a contrast between the materiality and the subject matter, with fragile paper mountains (a series of waxed sheets) resting on a paper plinth.

If you’re interested in the versatility of paper, check out this show before it finishes this weekend.

Festival of Paper runs until Sunday, 25 July. Rambaud’s performance is at 3pm and the music will be performed by cellist Hannah Marshall.

Basket House Village Universe (BHVU), Unit A, Leswin Place, London N16 7NJ
Saturday & Sunday 24th & 25th July
Open 12-5pm