Caroline Preston Interview
Can you tell me a little about how you came to start doing origami?
I was teaching in Japan and I ran an art club after school. In return for my teaching of western art techniques the children taught me origami. The rest you could say is history!
My first fold was the Crane, taught only visually, and in the traditional form. Soon after, as ‘messengers of peace’, every child in school was folding them to send to Hiroshima for the Peace Memorial Park. It was hearing the legend of ‘senbazuru’*, the story of Sadako Sasaki*, and this tradition, that got me interested in origami. On the Memorial stone is written: ‘This is my cry. This is my prayer. Peace in the World.’ The hope for World Peace has never changed and it’s the reason I continue to make origami Peace Cranes: Piece by Peace.
What has been your inspiration for this new collection?
Firstly, my inspiration is in the Butterfly and Crane: symbols of hope, change, and new life; peace, love, and longevity. The themes they represent are my inspiration.
Secondly, turning 2D paper into 3D form and the endless variety these present through the diversity of paper! Wow…this inspires me!
Last but certainly not least, the relaxing mindfulness of repetition in folding origami is my meditation and the heart of my creativity. These are the roots of my inspiration.
It has developed from a desire to create artwork that:
- harmonises and flows
- has balance and intrigue
- presents creativity, colour, and uniqueness despite being in repetition
These are qualities I observe in life.
When I make and design an origami composition I work piece by piece and each part has its own function in the formation; a personality so to speak. Consequently, I have a question for you:
If you were a butterfly in this collection which one would you be?
In your mind place all your cares and concerns on that one piece of origami, look at all the other pieces around it, and imagine other people have done the same. Think of your place in the artwork. Then look at all the other pieces of origami in every artwork surrounding it. Think of the hours and effort each individual piece represents: all you have ever done to get to this point today.
Remember the fragility of a piece of paper?
Well it was once a strong tree.
Remember the delicate butterfly dancing in the air?
It caused ‘The Butterfly Effect’*.
I like that sense of awe and wonder. What I’m trying to say is that each piece is important, we can all make a difference, and we each have a purposeful part to play. We are the same, but each unique. This is why my solo show is called ‘Piece by Peace’. My hope is that this collection reflects a peacefulness and harmony. Ultimately, the work is a meditation on the flow of life and nature, hence the title.
When did you start preparing the pieces – can you talk a little about the work involved?
I began preparing for these pieces at the end of 2017 so that I could have enough time to fold origami for the exhibition.
The range of colour and pattern that you see in these chiyogami, washi and kami papers is because they are from Japan, Australia and England. They are hand cut and folded to create a family of origami that makes up a piece; like a palette of paint. Deciding how these go together is the equivalent of a jigsaw with no rules, and that is the challenge to be creative, inventive, and to have fun with colour and design. I find inspiration throughout this whole process.
If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
Whilst being an artist, I am also the Arts Education Leader for Beaford Arts; a National Portfolio Organisation to Arts Council England. As you have learnt from reading this I became interested in origami through teaching, and when I am not an artist, I am an art teacher. I will always want to influence arts education in any small way that I can; working with many artists in schools and communities to ensure the next generation of young artists are inspired to follow their dreams. It was clear from Primary School that Art was for me, and I feel it is becoming increasingly difficult for young people to follow that path and to be what they want to be if that is an artist. I hope I can model to them that they can grow up to be exactly what they want and hope to be if they believe they can do it. As Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
Where do you call home?
What is the last exhibition you have seen?
‘Swisherama’ by Sandy Brown
I’m hopeful to do a big United project for Tokyo Olympics 2020, I just need the right contacts, and I’ve got people in Japan and UK trying to get me to the right person, but if you’re reading this and we can work together… let me know!
- Senbazuru: 1000 Cranes. Legend states those who fold 1000 cranes will be granted their wish.
- Sadako Sasaki: It is said that after the Hiroshima bombing Sadako Sasaki suffered from leukaemia after exposure to the radiation. Her ambition was to fold 1000 cranes and be cured. She folded and said “I will write peace on your wings and you will fly all over the World” but sadly she did not complete her mission to fold 1000 cranes before she died. Consequently the children continue to fold cranes each year to send to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial, and to display at school. 1000 cranes can also be seen outside shrines and temples throughout Japan, and are given as gifts.
- The Butterfly Effect: The breakthrough discovery by meteorologist Edward Lorenz was popularly known as the ‘butterfly effect’, which stated that something as small as a single flap of a butterfly wing can cause a big change in the weather somewhere else. Today, this concept has become so famous, that it is used as a metaphor in psychological thinking. Chaos Theory suggests that small changes in initial conditions can lead to large-scale and unpredictable variation in the future state of the system.