Thursday 14 July 2022

Early Papercutting - from figures to Letchworth buildings

 The start of papercutting......

When I first started papercutting, I just worked with a single piece of black paper and cut into it with scissors and a scalpel. I played with pattern and a few simple figures. It was thrilling! To make something so graphically strong with a few simple items was amazing. Paper is such a humble material and it is so warm and yet cool to the touch, I was pretty much hooked there and then. I knew about the papercuts of Matisse and more recently the quirky and romantic papercuts of Rob Ryan, but also Hans Christen Andersen's ones too so I had seen a range of papercuts made from single colours. I have always lived in small houses so storage of art has always been a problem. Making these papercuts was a revelation. My love of composition and design has found the right vehicle for me and one that I could easily do with limited space and working from a dining room table! 

Cutting Letchworth Garden City Buildings

As I experimented more, I realised that I could make papercuts based on buildings. I had always loved lino printing but they are messy and wouldn't suit the small amount of space I had in our house. It dawned on me that I could work with papercutting in a similar way to lino printing - basing pieces on a black line and simplifying them and abstracting the shapes so that I could capture the architecture. It was a real eureka moment! They could be more than just decorative patterns and be illustrations. I had lived in Letchworth for nine years by then and really looked and grown to love the Arts and Craft architecture that forms the heart of the town. It was a natural thing to look at the buildings and translate them into cut paper. 

"Paper Scissors Stone" exhibition

I showed these Letchworth papercuts to Josh Tidy, the curator of the then First Garden City Heritage Museum and he really loved them! And so we planned a solo exhibition to show them off to the wider world. I was so excited! It was a real dream realised to have a solo exhibition in my adopted home town. Josh thought of a great title for the show - "Paper, Scissors Stone" and we got going with organising it! It was a sell out show, with many of the pieces being bought by local residents. It lead to commissions of other buildings in the garden city too, from small to large buildings which was great to stretch me and the skills I needed to make more complex papercuts. I added pops of colour behind the cut out shapes and these infills lead to my later and much more complex Letchworth collages.