Saturday, 30 January 2010

Stratton Upper School workshop

Saturday workshop for pupils in Yrs 10 - 13 exploring letter forms in paper cutting.

Here are some photos of the work produced by pupils at Stratton Upper School, Biggleswade,Bedfordshire, during a saturday workshop I ran on 23rd January 2010. I had such a brilliant day - the staff and pupils were great to work with and the quality of what they produced was fantastic! They had recently been working on a typography project for their GCSE coursework and so this work directly fed into that. The workshop started with me talking about my work. I always take originals to show that are loose mounted so that people can see how delicate the cuts are and also get a sense of how they are made. The fundamental thing to understand about my work is the whole thing about paper cut away. In many art forms, layers upon layers are simply added and thats how the image is achieved. Paper cuts are the direct opposite and make your brain work in a very different way. Its quite a spacial thing to work out, and there is a logic involved in what needs to be cut out first.

In all workshops with children and adults of any age... there is always a period after I have talked and demonstrated, when its time for everyone to get cracking with their own work... when there is a tangible sense of ARGGGGGH!!!!!! making art is always a scary thing. That white page can make many people run for the hills! Thats the whole thing about making art - you have to metaphorically step off the edge and thats not easy at all.

Slowly slowly though as pupils started drawing and cutting the paper, the creative juices started flowing and there was a kind of hum in the room. We had the radio on, but there wasnt much chattering, everyone was concentrating fully on their work.

A piece of poetry cut out....

Working from photos of architecture in London....

This washing line was fantastic. This pupil had really got to grips with the technique that I use and she used it to make such a bold graphic image. This was a thrill to see made!

This pupil developed this cut from a lettering collage that he had made from text cut from magazines....

For this workshop we used fadeless display backing paper that is used in schools. Its a very matt black which has a white side. It was easy for the students to work on the white back and then cut through, so that the cuts could then be seen from the black front. The limitations of this is that the white edge sometimes showed and we also did need to reverse drawings because any letter forms would be reversed and not read correctly.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Its... nearly the END OF JANUARY!!! EEEK!!!

Well - its nearly the end of January and my usual intention has gone out of the window. That intention is always to use this quiet time to get paper work done, get my tax done way before the deadline on 31st and not let January slip through my fingers. January of course has gone the way it always does... things have unexpectedly happened... the snow.... and unexpected opportunities have come to. So I am actually broadly grinning here today. Its good to know that the future isnt settled, that there are a whole load of little journeys out there I have yet to take.

Digging about in my box of photos...

I was going through my box of photos the other day to get a range of work ready for a presentation and I came across this one. Its actually the one piece that set me on the road of being a paper cutter. Its a stencilled head of Metatron. I had been reading Philip Pullmans' His Dark Materials trilogy and I couldnt get out of my head the idea of the ultimate fallen angel. I cut a stencil for the head and used a sponge to press through the paint. That technique is really useful, you can get very crisp painted lines onto material and I have always liked it. This time however, I kept looking at the stencil and realising its potential in itself. I had seen paper cutting before. My mother-in-law is Polish so I had loved the ones she has that are very much of the people, for the people. Chickens and birds and folk patterns feature heavily in Polish paper cutting with bright jewel like colours included with the black cut base paper.

Something happened though and the penny just dropped I suppose! I realised that this truly was a technique to grab me long term. It was possible at last to make something that seemed to completely fit its form and function, and to fit in with my ideals and interests, be practical, not too show-offy.... cutting paper ticked many, many boxes!

So that was the start. I will post on here soon my first few cuts to show everyone the first tentative cuts. It seems funny to see them now - but fab too. I like looking at old work. Its like seeing old friends.