Poetry with paper: printmaking, book history and wearable art

‘M E T A M O R P H O S I S’, 2022 (silver, linen rag paper cuttings from sixteenth- and seventeenth- century books, paper; length 60cm, maximum height 5cm


‘M E T A M O R P H O S I S’ is a wearable piece of art that draws on Jane Partner’s teaching and research in early modern printmaking and book history. It was on exhibition in ‘A Word After A Word’, at the Baltimore Jewelry Center (United States, 18 February – 26 March)


In Partner’s own words:

This neckpiece frames original printed letters that were once part of 16th and 17th century. These letters are reconfigured to spell ‘metamorphosis’ (literally ‘change of shape’).


This neckpiece re-uses material that has already been re-used as a means to reflect on the deep time of the material objects around us and to place the idea of recycling into a longer historical perspective.
It also makes a reference to one of the most influential literary texts from the period when these books were printed: Ovid’s Metamorphoses. This long mythological poem deals in part with the transformation of bodies into other natural forms, as in the story of the forest-loving nymph Daphne who became a laurel tree. Artists depict Daphne as a hybrid tree-human, an image that has new power as we reassess our own relationship with nature. The wearing of the ancient plant matter incorporated in this neckpiece offers us a symbolic opportunity to enact that hybridity.

When placed on the body, the word ‘metamorphosis’ takes on another important meaning as a passionately affirmative statement of the potential for individual and social transformation. Layered over its meditations on time, materiality and ecology, this piece also communicates a one-word manifesto for positive change.

Through wearable art, Partner reflects on the journey of paper’s materiality while also reflecting ideas of change, evolution and ecology.

Further examples

More pictures and explanation about Partner’s work can be found in the following document, which Partner’s kindly shared with us.

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