Charles Turner was a research scientist at Australian Pulp and Paper Mill, Burnie, Tasmania. He retired from APPM in 1983 and continued his interest in papermaking from his Banksia Studio at Sisters Beach, NW Tasmania.
Visitors were surrounded by drying sheets on every window, papermaking stories, superb cooking, good wine and restless investigation of the fibres suitable for papermaking. Children and adults visited regularly to learn and enjoy the act of making sheets of paper and art with coloured pulps.
Moving to Sisters Beach from Adelaide I was very fortunate to find such expertise in this friend and neighbour. Charlie the scientist, chemist, botanist, environmentalist and papermaking artist was inspirational in my development as a papermaker.
Papermaking at Banksia Studio was about the intrinsic qualities of paper and plant fibres. Charlie investigated local plants in search of a plant with similar long fibre qualities to the Japanese Mitsumata shrub (Edgeworthia papyrifera) known as paper mulberry. He also discovered that the sticky fruit berries of a local plant “Snoddy Gobble “a parasitic mistletoe could be used as a substitute for neri or formation aid. We would collect these and freeze them until ready to use. Experiments were made with local plants such as sag grass lomandra longifolia, bracken fern, New Zealand spinach, cordyline, seaweeds, grasses and many others.
In 1992, Charlie and I designed a community papermaking facility for the Creative Living Centre in Burnie where I was working as a community artist. To get us pulping I sourced an “insinkerator” waste disposal unit from Melbourne for a mere $300.
My travels to Europe in 1993 , a visit with Jane Reese at Nautilus Press and the Museum of Paper and Writing, Basle continued to fill me with inspiration to bring home to Tasmania. It was not long before the first evolution of this community papermaking studio would take place. He lived just long enough to see his vision of helping the community with the formation of Creative Paper , Burnie, Tasmania in 1994.
Charlie passed away in 1996 but will live on in our hearts, memories and into the future on our papermaking journey.
A short video was made in 1994 including our artworks with handmade paper, pulp paintings and film footage of Charles in his studio.
A collection of some of his pulp paintings and plant experiments can be found at the Burnie Regional Art Gallery.
The Burnie Regional Art Gallery also has a beautiful tribute to Charlie in the artists book “The Man Who Loved Paper” by Penny Carey Wells, Tasmanian papermaker and book artist, educator and curator.