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More images from the wonderful exhibition The First Cut still on at Manchester Art Gallery and then touring, with at least a couple more UK venues.

This exhibition had all sorts of resonances for me, from the making of paper dolls when I was a child, to obsessive cutting out or collecting of paper in all forms from newspapers, magazines, information leaflets, wrapping paper (ongoing), to papermaking and book art (more recent interests) to paper cutting, which I have always been fascinated by, particularly in the form of silhouettes in fairytale books (I blame Jan Pienkowski and Gallery Five cards, but Lotte Reiniger was an earlier source)

silhouette from the nutcracker by jan pienkowski

silhouette from the nutcracker by jan pienkowski (Photo credit: damselfly58)

and which has had such a renaissance recently mainly due to laser cutting techniques. It was reassuring to see so many of the artists in this exhibition working by hand, with scalpels and patience.

It was also the themes of the work that interested me – particularly of course the emphasis on landscapes of one sort or another. I have already shown some of those featuring trees and forests in an earlier post. Others with environmental concerns included Yuken Teruya, a Japanese artist now living in New York, who reflects on the impact of consumerism on the global environment in his Notice – Forest (Burger King) of 2009, a tree inside a burger wrapper.

Notice Forest (Burger King) by Yuken Teruya

Notice Forest (Burger King) by Yuken Teruya

Themes of the meeting of cultures , particularly through colonisation are picked up by Emma Van Leest in Theodora of 2011, a mandala with Javanese motifs.

Theodora by Emma Van Leest

Theodora by Emma Van Leest

Claire Brewster shows the ability of birds to transcend borders and countries in The Harbingers.

The Harbingers by Claire Brewster

The Harbingers by Claire Brewster, 2011

This was one of a number of pieces with the theme of journeys. Nicola Dale, in Down from 2010, used Ordnance Survey maps to hand cut 12,000 feathers referencing journeys and places lost in time.

Down by Nicola Dale

Down by Nicola Dale

Down by Nicola Dale

Down by Nicola Dale

Going West by Andersen M Studio, accompanied an animation on the same theme using a novel by the New Zealand writer Maurice Gee as a source to represent a landscape.

Going West by Andersen M Studio

Going West by Andersen M Studio

Another literary source inspired Su Blackwell‘s Wuthering Heights made when she was artist in residence at the Bronte Parsonage in Yorkshire, characteristic of her work which has been used both in books of fairy tales and in set design for a performance of The Snow Queen in London last year.

Wuthering Heights by Su Blackwell

Wuthering Heights by Su Blackwell

She and several other of the artists recycle books, magazines and other found papers for their pieces. another piece by Nicola Dale A Secret Heliotropism from 2006 was made over a year, using 320 pages from a found book. She quotes Walter Benjamin‘s Theses on the Philosophy of History, “As flowers turn towards the sun, by dint of a secret heliotropism the past strives to turn toward that sun which is rising in the sky of history.”

A Secret Heliotropism by Nicola Dale

A Secret Heliotropism by Nicola Dale

EXODUS:8:13 by Andrea Mastrovito uses seed and flower catalogues to create a lush flower scene, invaded by frogs (the biblical reference is to a plague of frogs).

EXODUS:8:13 by Andrea Mastrovito

EXODUS:8:13 by Andrea Mastrovito

EXODUS:8:13 by Andrea Mastrovito

EXODUS:8:13 by Andrea Mastrovito

Kew Gardens is one of the places portrayed by Abigail Reynolds in her The Wonderful Story of London, bringing together old illustrations and published material from different periods, in this detail 1936 and 1950.

The Wonderful Story of London by Abigail Reynolds

The Wonderful Story of London by Abigail Reynolds

Mia Pearlman‘s ROIL uses water as a metaphor for the passage of time, also referencing the Japanese Tsunami.

ROIL 2012 by Mia Perlaman

ROIL 2012 by Mia Pearlman

Interviews with the artists can be found here:

http://www.manchestergalleries.org/whats-on/exhibitions/index.php?itemID=92

Apparently the opening of the exhibition included a musical performance incorporating paper music. An account can be found here:

http://www.dyversemusic.com/2012/10/kirsty-almeidamanchester-weekender.html

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