Tuesday, February 05, 2013

folded beauty: napkin folding and fresh expressions

I was in Bath on Sunday to do some research – attend an alt.worship event and interview a group I first met ten years ago, called Sanctuary.

Expecting to get lost, as has been my usual pattern to date in the UK, I left with time to spare. Unexpectedly not getting lost, I found myself with time to spare. Driving past a Museum, I decided to stop and have a look. On the second floor, I found Folded Beauty: Masterpieces in linen.

This is a mountain range – made out of folded napkins!

Here is a castle, complete with bird and rabbit. Again, made out of napkins.

The artist Joan Sallas is from Spain. Originally working with origami, he became intrigued by napkin and linen folding. It is a forgotten art, very popular in the 18th century, to decorate tables. So popular that richly illustrated books were produced. The art died. But Joan somehow became aware of it, did some research and learnt to master this forgotten art.

I’m still trying to work out why I found it so moving. Partly because of their beauty, these extraordinary, pure white creations. Partly because here was beauty made from the ordinary and domestic. Art from napkins! Creativity around food. Perhaps partly because it was a forgotten art and so it is another way of considering Fresh Expressions – a recovery of what has been forgotten. Doug Gay brings this out really well in his book, Remixing The Church: Towards an Emerging Ecclesiology. He argues that the “Emerging Church can perhaps best be understood as an irreverent new wave of grassroots ecumenism,” pointing to the rediscovery of the church year, set prayers, rituals, icons. So here is another example of fresh expressions.

Posted by steve at 06:04 AM


  1. That looks intriguing, will go and visit when I am in town tomorrow!

    Comment by sonia — February 5, 2013 @ 7:28 pm

  2. Enjoy. I loved the way that precision (of folds), leads to beauty.

    Comment by steve — February 7, 2013 @ 12:52 am

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