Loretta So-Johnson

Loretta So-Johnson


The Culture of Paper

Asia paper making creative retreat in the Veluwe

I propose a working creative retreat based on the 8 processes of Asian paper making that layer working with active rest in the rich paper landscape of the Veluwe. Artists are invited to live and stay at this retreat to experience the process and also the landscape in the hope that this will also influence their creative process

My upbringing of growing up in a Chinese household in Britain and now living in The Netherlands is the start of my story. This intersection and fusion of these 3 identities provide a richness that informs my own architecture and creativity. Personal cultural exchange for me is defined by learning new methods of working that influence my creativity. Therefore the theme of cultural exchange through process and making is key to my story.

Papermaking is the backbone of my story because of paper's cultural significance and its Chinese roots. It is an iterative, explorative and communal process that established a rhythmic process that inspires me as a maker. Paper has touched all continents and in the 16th-17th century a series of 171 paper mills emerged between Zwolle and Appeldoorn that formed the heart of papermaking in The Netherlands. The Ruitermolen, which became my location, was one of these original paper mills. Built in 1606 as a paper mill, it sadly no longer produces paper and therefore my assignment of a creative papermaking retreat found its home.  

This project weaves the 8 Chinese intentional steps of making paper with the beautiful Ruitermolen in its surrounding landscape. The resulting architectural language is careful and precise curation of contrasts in light and dark, functional and expressive, introverted workshops vs light ateliers for the artists, subtleties in the material palette are all harmoniously woven together. This retreat marries the right elements from different cultures and this creative retreat is a sum of its parts and also the sum of my identities. 

Graduation date: 6 March 2024
Graduation committee: Judith Korpershoek (mentor), Peter Defesche, Marlies Boterman 
Additional members for the exam: Jo Barnett, Patrick Roegiers

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