Paper mill

Not very many kilometers separate Munich to the Wurzmühle near Bad Grosspertholz, but they lead into another world. The paper mill, which was founded around 1789, stands beside a stream in an elongated valley in the Waldviertel, close to the Czech border. When Beatriz von Eidlitz first arrived there in 1985, she came from Kapelln an der Perschling, not far from Vienna, where she had staged a solo exhibition at the Katzenberger Quatember. Msgr. Dr. Robert Gärtner, the founder of this cultural event, had told her about the paper mill. As she was preparing her diploma thesis at the Munich Art Academy, where the paper workshop was usually overcrowded, this tip came at precisely the right time for the artist. Franz and Josefine Mörzinger, the owners of the historic mill at the time, gave her a warm welcome. She looked around, received valuable advice and was able to set up a workspace among the historic equipment. She returned the favor by reviving the handmade paper industry, commissioning handcrafted sieve frames from the village carpenter’s shop, and doing her part to procure discarded white cotton fabrics, the raw material for rag paper, which had become scarce. Beatriz von Eidlitz clearly remembers her first experiments with rag pulp, screens and handmade paper:

“My journey with oxidations began with trying to dry the pulp into paper directly atop an iron plate. I left the whole thing to dry when I went back to Munich. Upon my return a few weeks later, the paper pulp on the iron plate still hadn’t dried and was, in fact, still soaking wet. I stoked a fire in the old kitchen stove and laid the sheet on it, iron plate an all. That helped. After a few hours, I was finally able to peel off the layer of paper, which was now dry and strong. What came to light was breathtaking! The paper glowed with rusty hues. This was the beginning of a new phase of work, from which my techniques developed in ever-new experimental steps. My oeuvre was dominated at that time by paper sculptures – some freestanding, some meant to be hung – strongly relief-accentuated works and elaborately crafted spherical segments. For some sculptures, I invited the blacksmith to contribute his skills. That’s how rag paper, iron and the rusty tones of the oxidations became central elements in my work – and have remained so to this day.”