Papergirl Dublin was founded in 2011, inspired by earlier Papergirl projects, the first of which began in Berlin in 2006. This first Papergirl project began as a response to a ban on putting posters in public places. Papergirl now takes place in 20 cities worldwide, and is a non-commercial venture to bring art to the masses. Art is collected via an open call for submissions, an exhibition is held (see more about the 2013 exhibition below!) and then the art is distributed paperboy/girl style, on bikes to the people of the city. It’s a cool project because artists of all abilities can take part, and have their work exhibited. In 2012 the Dublin exhibition featured 281 works by over 80 different artists. This year’s exhibition will take place from the 15th to the 18th of August in a café called Lurve at Lucy’s. I caught up with Papergirl Dublin founder Mice Hell to find out more about the Dublin project and the upcoming show of art.
Jenny Duffy (JD): When did you first come across Papergirl?
Mice Hell (MH): In 2008 when I was living in Germany. I was studying for a year in Leipzig, which is about 1 hour away from Berlin, and I saw a Papergirl Berlin poster on a wall. Simple as that. It was a very nice poster so I looked it up online when I went home.
On a related note, I was helping out/selling ginger beer at the Dublin Zine Fair last August, after doing Papergirl a month or so earlier. One of the stallholders at that was a chap called Florian from Berlin, and after talking to him for an hour or so I found out he studied in the same class as Aisha, the girl who started the original Papergirl Berlin. Dublin is small even if you’re from Berlin.
JD: What inspired you to start up the Dublin branch?
MH: For about 2 years I kept an eye on the Papergirls springing up all over the world & sent a lot of art to them, & every time I did it I thought “someone should do that here”. And after 3 years, I realised nobody else was going to do it.
JD: Are there links between the different branches of Papergirl internationally?
MH: Depends what you mean by links. The projects are not run by the same person or people or even by any kind of central “committee”, they are set up by people who just want to set them up. Anyone could set up a Papergirl.
There’s a Papergirl World blog (papergirl-world.blogspot.com), where various Papergirls from around the world can post open calls & information about their individual projects. And because it’s a project based around sharing & general niceness, Papergirls in other countries/cities are usually very happy to mention you on their own blogs or websites.
Also, I have got art from people directly involved in Papergirl in other countries – they know how much work goes in & what it means to get something so generally they’re really good about sending things.
JD: Have you been to any of the Papergirl exhibitions in other countries?
MH: Unfortunately, no! Tried to make it to Berlin in 2008 but it was postponed due to bad weather I think.
JD: What makes Papergirl different from other exhibitions, and how does it benefit artists?
MH: First of all, it’s completely non-commercial. Nothing is for sale. Someone did ask to buy a piece last year, I had to tell them no.
Secondly, and this is not necessarily a criticism – most galleries are there to show & preserve the art. There’s a lot of preciousness around keeping the art safe – often you can’t touch it, and then when the exhibition is over it is put away very carefully in a dark drawer where nobody gets to see it. None of that with Papergirl.
As for how it benefits artists; first of all, it’s a bit of free promotion. That’s always nice. Second of all, it frees them from having to worry about the piece looking perfect, and from looking after the piece once it’s been made. That can be liberating – hopefully it has encouraged someone to try making something differently.
JD: Have any submissions surprised you? Any personal favourites of this year’s submissions?
MH: I should really say “They’re ALL a surprise I love ALL of the children”… but I’m always especially delighted to get zines. Got a zine this year by a guy called Danilo Vadis, really cool stuff.
JD: What were the submissions like this year, in terms of quantity, medium, subject matter etc.?
MH: So far (and I’m aware the exhibition is less than a week away, but people are still giving me things) there are 33 artists, 8 anonymous submissions, and at least 100 individual pieces. Quite a few people gave multiples of photographs or poetry or posters.
There are very few pieces over A3 size, a fair bit of collage work. And the subject matter is manifold. “Varied” doesn’t really do it justice.
Medium-wise, it’s almost exclusively paper-based – probably because the art does need to be rollable. The guy I mentioned earlier from Berlin gave me some 3-dimensional posters with 3d glasses included. That’s probably one of the more unusual pieces. Also myself & my flatmate Siobhán are submitting some postage stamps that we “designed” in the GPO museum at the “make your own stamp” exhibit which is probably aimed at children… those are going to be great fun.
JD: In the past, how have the ‘innocent bystanders’ who receive the art reacted?
MH: With confusion. But most of them seemed pretty happy with it after a few seconds, from what I could see.
JD: Why should everyone visit the Papergirl exhibition?
MH: Well what else would you be doing of a Thursday night?! There’ll be ginger beer. And you’ll get to see things, like them, want them, & wait on tenterhooks to see if you’ll get it when we distribute the art a few days later.
A HUGE thank you to Mice Hell for being so wonderful and helpful, she was a pleasure to interview! Below are a few of my favourite submissions (check out the Papergirl Dublin tumblr for more, where you will find everything from Danger Mouse to Kate Middleton!) The exhibition opens on the 15th of August at 6pm, don’t miss out!