West Moss-side Organic Farm and Centre nr Stirling Scotland

Charmian Pollok

Imagine my delight when Charmian agreed to come to West Moss-side to run a workshop to share her expertise and excitement in paper making from native plants. She brought some of her most wondeful pieces for display in the Centre too. I particularly love the strong and beautiful connections which her work conveys between the natural and human worlds. (Kate Sankey)


 
Paper is such a ubiquitous thing that we rarely value it as we should.  It has been around for over 2000 years and plays an extraordinary part in human history. With the modern emphasis on a necessary conservation and recycling of resources, it is more important than ever to appreciate the wonder of it and the environment from which it springs.
 
I went to art school in my middle age and experienced a complete, literal and marvellous change of life.  I studied fine art printmaking under Philip Reeves, a wonderful artist whose approach to his subject matter influenced me hugely and, also, whilst in first year, I experienced, for the first time, the excitement of putting my hands into a vat of paper pulp. What I made was like cold porridge with bits of bracken in it but, still, I was hooked.  My tutor, who at the time knew little about the subject, sent me to Jacki Parry, an expert papermaker, who introduced me to the basics of working with plants. I spent the rest of my time at art school trying to figure out how to produce art by combining my papers with what had become my abiding interest as subject matter, the environment and mankind's relationship to it. My eureka moment happened in time for my degree show in 1992 and I have been following this path ever since, though my work is continually evolving and becoming ever more 3D.
 
In my work I combine my lifelong love of walking with my interest in the environment and its history.  I am also able to indulge my other lifelong habit of collecting what some folks call junk, bits and pieces, both natural and man-made, ordering and presenting these within individual pieces of work.
 
Over the years I have continued to expand my research into plant pulps, specialising in Scottish native plant papers and was recently invited to contribute to Elspeth Lamb's seminal book for A & C Black, Papermaking for Printmakers writing a chapter on making paper from native plants.
 
Alongside my own work, for the last 15 years I have also pursued a career in community education, mainly but not exclusively, in paper-based media, working with various groups of all ages and needs. I have worked a lot with Artlink Central and for various institutions such as Glasgow University, The National Museums of Scotland, Glasgow Print Studio, and many local authorities and environmental organisations.  It is a continuing pleasure.