Saturday, February 4, 2012

Su Blackwell

Oh my goodness, there's nothing I love more than paper cutouts with a touch of whimsy, so when I discovered the marvelous workings of artist and art director, Su Blackwell, I fell instantly in love!

Look at these astounding creations! *Squeal!*

The patience and love that must have gone into every one of these delicate pieces is astounding; each one had to be so meticulously cut and placed.

Born in Sheffield, England in 1975, Su Blackwell grew up frolicking in the nearby woods and designing fantastic stories to vent her wild imagination. You can really see the woodland influence in much of her work, and I can understand why; there is something wonderfully magical about forests (it is where sprites and fairies dwell, after all).

When she entered Bradford's College, Blackwell felt drawn to textiles and chose it as her focus of study. Later, she earned her MA in Textiles from the Royal College of Art in London (where the Brothers Quay and Suzie Templeton also studied!). I certainly love the variety of pattern and texture in textiles as well; you can really see that influence in her paper works.

After graduation, Blackwell took a trip to Thailand where she bought a beautiful second-hand book. She began cutting moth shapes out of it with a craft knife to illustrate a Chinese legend she felt connected to. This soon led her to work with fairy tale books as well and by 2006 she was getting a lot of exposure and opportunities for solo shows and commissions.

Harrods Magazine

Harpers Bazaar Magazine

When beginning a new project with a book, Blackwell always reads the book first, once or twice, and then begins to create the work, cutting out and adding details; she says, "the detail is what brings it all together, the magic element. It is a tediously slow process."

I don't know why I'm particularly fascinated with art that requires such tedious processes (i.e. animation). I'm not a very patient person either. It must have something to do with the idea that slow and steady processes amassed over time can end up with such unimaginably intricate and beautiful creations.

Blackwell likes paper because of its connection to spiritual rituals she encountered in South East Asia. I wonder if she drew any inspiration from the intricately cut shadow puppets of indonesia?

Blackwell says she'll never tire of paper as a medium, and in fact finds it more fascinating now than ever. I know what she means. Here are just a few examples of some marvelous Book Art I've found. The skill and patience required to make these is astounding, and the creative possibilities endless!

Brian Dettmer
(The Book Surgeon)

Isaac Salazar

Rachael Ashe

Cara Barer

What is it about the book that conjures such evocative emotion within us? Is it the mystery of what might be contained within its pages? Is it the boundless exchange of knowledge and wisdom? Is it the transportability of our minds to other realms? Is it the endless creative possibility? It is all these things and more. Books are personal and shared experience. They are timeless and constant--and at the same time, ever-changing with us. They are doors to endless worlds woven together with words, and all we need do to enter is turn the page.

In her young career, Sue Blackwell has designed dozens of book sculptures, magazine spreads, installation pieces, and commercial projects, including the set design for a play based off the Hans Christian Andersen story, "The Snow Queen.

Su Blackwell is currently working on a book of her own due out in Aug, 2012. She established Su Blackwell Studio Ltd. in 2011. Please enjoy many more of her pieces here.

I wish her well in the future and can't wait to see what other magic she unleashes from between the pages of a good book.


1 comment:

  1. My god, they're fantastic. The amount of work and hours gone into them is amazing. I'm like you though, I wouldn't normal be a very patient person but when it comes to art and animation, I could spend hours watching it and doing it! R