Wednesday, 9 March 2011

I wish I had done this: Su Blackwell

I came across this artist whilst browsing Mail Online and was not only intrigued by her creations but also very envious of them and knew from the moment I saw them that I could only dream of creating something so amazing!

Su Blackwell, born in Sheffield in 1975 works predominantly within the realm of paper (similarly to some of my own work) She is an Artist and an Art director, who composes sculptures from a single book, only using the pages within the book itself to create beautiful, fragile three-dimensional structures.

As a young child, Su Blackwell grew up in her own little fantasy world spending a lot of her time playing in the woods situated near her house, naming trees and building dens from any materials she could get her hands on from around her home.

I enjoy working with such fragile materials and manipulating them into something else myself so when I saw her work I was very interested by it and found it fascinating that she had sat and cut such intricate, delicate shapes from thin sheets of paper inside a book.

I guarantee that everyday we encounter paper, but it is they kind of medium we overlook and take for granted.
Su Blackwell on the other hand does not overlook the material and instead appreciates it turning it into something unimaginable and defined.
Su herself states,
'I began to incorporate paper. which has both a fragility and strength that drew me in and still fascinates me to this day. it is a readily available, cheap material that has gone through a cyclical process from wood to paper.'

This is just one example of her work that I was astounded by!
Her work is so frail and it is so obvious from the amount of detail and attention gone into the creations just how time consuming the process must be.

She introduced this paper technique to her work after purchasing a second hand book whilst on a trip to Thailand.
Whilst in Eastern Asia she witnessed how paper was burned in spiritual rituals 'to mark the passing of the dead,' and claims to reflect these destructive processes when cutting up fragile books.

She does not just pick up a book at random to cut up but instead carefully picks books and reads them sometimes not just once but twice which in turn inspires what she creates either from a paragraph from the book or a picture she sees within it.
Not only do the words in the books she reads tell a story but also significantly the history of the novel evident from stains or rips, creases and tears it may have got from the journey its been on. This adds to the overall finished works that she creates making the sculptures that bit more interesting and beautiful.

She says that the pieces can take anywhere from a week up to two months to complete which further makes me truly appreciate the effort that goes into making her outcomes.
I love the way she can turn something so banal into something so precious and unusual.

Su seems to have a natural gift in turning simple paper books into something magical and make believe like she experienced from her childhood.
The lighting brings the entire creation to life and makes me want to have some kind of shrinking power to walk into the mysterious, haunting and dreamlike worlds.

It is as if the artist is bringing the book she has just read to life, bringing the characters out of the book into the real world in an interesting exciting way.

The artist herself says,
'although the pieces are quite literary, they aren’t a straight re-telling of the story – they are my interpretation of it and contain a lot of my own emotions.'
Suggesting her works are not only based on the medium she works from but also from deeper underlying, personal matters and feelings within herself.

She likes to keep her entire process behind the making of the sculptures under wraps and you can't blame her! However, she does reveal that she simply uses a craft knife to cut out the images and reinforces them with card or wire as a way of creating the 3D scenes. She is firstly sparked by reading the book but never usually has a final image in her head of the entire outcome but instead lets the materials guide her to form the end product.

She sells these creations for upto £5000 each!

From studying her work and researching the labour intensive process' Su undertakes in creating the pieces I feel really inspired by her.
She shows determination and dedication throughout the making of the three-dimensional sculptures which can be seen from the amount of detail, passion and care of the magical crafts.

Some other beautiful book sculptures:

I wish I had the skill and patience to create something as beautiful and intriguing as the work of Su Blackwell.

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