Origami Heaven

A paperfolding paradise

The website of writer and paperfolding designer David Mitchell


Paperfolding as Partnership Art
Partnership art is a concept that expresses the partnership that often exists in origami/paperfolding between the designer, who first conceptualises and defines the design, and the folder, who realises one expression of it at one particular point in time, and also often interprets the design as they fold it, making changes to the structure, appearance or the use to which the design is put, so that both contribute in equal partnership to the finished artwork. Such a partnership may be formal or informal.

Most commonly informal partnership art occurs where the designer releases drawn, photographic or video instructions for the design and folders see these instructions and choose to create their own version of the design. It may also occur where other paperfolders reverse engineer a design from a photograph. I sometimes use the term craft origami to describe this kind of partnership art.

In a more formal way this separation of the design and the realisation in partnership art allows a delicate artwork to be created in situ in an exhibition space and so avoids the risk of damage in transit. Furthermore it means that each realisation will not only be remote in space and time but also unique to the context in which it is to be created and displayed. The concept of partnership art also harmonises well with the idea of origami as a transitory artform, one that is not intended to last in any particular realisation but that can, and should, be realised over and over again in many different contexts.

Partnership art may also be a formal or informal partnership between more than one designer and several, or many, paperfolders.

This page gives two examples of formal partnership art in action. There are also pages devoted to informal partnership art which show the way in which other paperfolders have chosen to realise and interpret some of my best designs.

Material Immaterial - Paper Art in Israel exhibition

In 2008 my Octahedral Pyramid design was selected for inclusion in the Material Immaterial - Paper Art in Israel exhibition at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv.

The sculpture was realised as partnership art in Israel by the exhibition curator Paul Jackson.

The units were folded by Gila Oren, Ilan Garibi, Gadi Vishne and Regev Hauschner from custom silver pearlised paper designed by Paul Jackson. The finished sculpture is 55cm high.

The nolid octahedra were designed by Robert E Neale in about 1965. In 1988 I conceived of the pyramidal form and designed the joining units.

  South East Origami Festival (SEOF) 2002

At SEOF 2002, held in Charlotte, USA, Jonathan Baxter and a team of volunteer paperfolders created a number of large partnership art wall panels (of which this is one of the smallest) using my Alpha Pyramid design.

Pat Bush, writing on the Origami Mailing List, described this installation as 'the one that made my spirits soar' and explained, 'I was inspired because it is something I can strive for in this lifetime. Some of the other artists had accomplished unbelievable feats with paper, but the models were so complex, it was like a sinner gazing upon heaven - so very, very glorious but you ain't ever gonna get there'.