Imagine you’re walking down the street on your way to pick up some milk and someone whizzes past on a bike and hurls a roll of paper in your direction. On unravelling the bundle, you find that it is a collection of drawings, prints and illustrations that have been gifted to you for free.
This was the experience of many Berliners last week, following the fifth year of art project Papergirl Berlin. The project was set up in 2005 by Aisha Ronniger and sees hundreds of artists and graphic designers submit artwork, which is then collected into bundles of five or so pieces and distributed to people around the city by a swarm of speedy paper boys and girls.
The project has made such an impression on participants and those receiving the art that it is spreading across the world at pace. Artists in New York, Cape Town, Romania and Sydney have all expressed an interest in getting the project going in their hometowns.
Janice Stainton, an account manager at Judge Gill, had wanted to bring the project to the UK for a while before finally deciding to set the project up in Manchester. Stainton has just come back from Berlin, where she was helping with this year’s event in order to gather tips for the Manchester event.
‘People were shocked and curious,’ says Stainton. ‘The kids especially were so excited. People think it’s like magic. It’s not something that really happens that often.’
The Manchester event will include a day delivering work in late autumn which will coincide with an exhibition of the work involved. In the months before the event Stainton and her helpers will busily gather the submissions and separate them into rolls for the big day itself. Stainton says, ‘For the recipient it’s a gift of free art. It’s more of an emotional thing for the artists, rather than just a chance for self-promotion.’
Stainton is currently looking for artists and designers who are keen to submit their work, as well as cyclists willing to get involved in the delivery. Submissions can be individual works or prints of up to about 20 copies, so that each roll is a special limited edition. Submissions close on 1 September. For more information visit the Papergirl Manchester blog.