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April 15, 2021

A papier-mâché party at Papershell Farm

Mother-son art duo Koruna and Kaspar Schmidt Mumm have a deep understanding of the world-building power of pulped paper, so this weekend they're hosting a hands-on tutorial on the practical art of papier-mâché.

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  • Words: Angela Skujins
  • Pictures: Emmaline Zanelli

Papier-mâché, translated from French, literally means “chewed/pulped/mashed paper”, which is pretty spot on.

Many of us first encounter the material while crafting piñatas and planetary dioramas, but the weird grey goop has a history much broader than primary school arts and crafts classes. 


Paper-making workshop
10:30am ‘til 4:00pm Sunday, April 18
Papershell Farm
203 Almond Grove Road, Willunga 5172
Tix: $180 (including two-course lunch)
More info here.

In World War One, the French used the material on the battlefield, making fake heads and horses to fool their foes. The mixture can also be used to craft walls and ceilings in buildings. 

In all of the interviews CityMag has conducted, no one has been as passionate about paper and its transformative qualities than visual artists Kaspar Schmidt Mumm and his mother, Koruna Schmidtt Mumm. They both utilise the malleable slop in differing ways in their art practices.

So enamoured are they with papier-mâché, this Sunday they’re holding a workshop on how to master the craft, at Willunga almond orchard Papershell Farm.

“I’ve been fooling around with it, making candle-stick holders and objects that pile up on each other. I see it more of a paper clay,” Koruna tells CityMag.

Kaspar has spent the last year and a half collecting waste paper and cardboard from offices and architecture firms.

“I was just essentially recycling it into usable material,” Kaspar says.

“A friend called another friend and said ‘Mate, I’ve got heaps of paper we’re chucking out in the recycling system. Do you want it?’ He’s like, ‘No, but I know an artist who does.'”

A lot of this abandoned paper stock will be utilised in Koruna and Kaspar’s paper-making workshop this weekend.

“We’ll be exploring sculptural forms using paper mixed with different mediums,” Kaspar says.

“We’re going to create some candelabras, and people can mix and match what they want. It’s really open.”

Kaspar is a member of multi-disciplinary creative collective The Bait Fridge, which is known for fusing music, kaleidoscopic costumes and theatre into a beautiful hot performance mess.

The group makes sets and props from paper-mâché and recycled, disused material aka garbage.

To create these objects, Kaspar uses a repurposed drill press and some old wine-making equipment to pulverise the paper.

‘Breaking Bad’ but with porridge


Koruna says she’s played with the mixture artistically for years and remembers when “paper-making parties in peoples’ backyards” were a thing. She even once owned a retro paper dress.

But, like her son, she doesn’t limit herself to paper, and flirts with other ephemeral materials, such as gum nuts, leaves and vines, turning them into sculptural works.

“One of the things I’d love to experiment with this workshop is… Mum knows a lot about natural pigments and dyes,” Kaspar says.

“We’ve lived in so many places,” Koruna says, “I have switched around nuts and inks and barks. I’ve got books about dying in every environment.”

The repurposing of paper links into Kaspar’s artistic ethos, which explores ideas of people recycling culture. He’s cognisant of the waste that visual arts can produce, but believes it’s worth it if it’s done transparently and with purpose.

For Koruna, paper is symbolic of the democratisation of communication. But, similarly, she’s aware of the cost this has incurred upon the planet.

“There’s this whole thing about paper being for everybody, and then all suddenly we’re aware of what it’s done to our environment. That’s just one material that we’ve abused or overused,” she says.

As Koruna says this, she motions towards a notebook filled with sketches. She’ll often doodle at the bottom of to-do lists as it helps her think.  

Kaspar’s creative journey has also taken place on the page. He admits, half-jokingly, he realised art was important to him in high school when the girls were impressed he could draw.

He was always making art at home, he says, but never thought about it seriously until others took notice. Art making was always around him, fostered through his family.

As much as this Sunday’s papier-mâché workshop is about the artistic pursuit of Kaspar and Koruna, for the public it will be about becoming familiar with the sloppy gunk and what you can do with it.

The event will offer a quick rundown of the history of papier-mâché such as interesting factoids, like a NSW town that imported a whole paper village but the idea is to get your hands dirty.

“I hope it’s a social thing,” Koruna says, “and I’d like for it to be a mum and a son, or a mum and a daughter – family.”

“Lunch is paid for. You get to meet people and hang out,” Kaspar says.

“Everybody’s welcome and it is gonna be about talking and making and being together.”

Kaspar and Koruna’s paper-making workshop is happening on Sunday, 18 April from 10:30am ’til 4pm at Papershell Farm. For more information and to book a spot, see the website.

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