The 'feel' of the work (May 2014)
My work has always been quite decorative and the artist Christian Boltanski, who uses light and shadow in a dark and sinister way, made me realise that my imagery was quite tame. And if I wanted to express turmoil there needed to be more anguish and disorder expressed to reflect this. For the feel of my work is very important.
Doing our Chelsea College SUARTS show I realised that lighting plays a huge part in my work. The way I cut now is freer and contains a lot more emotional and symbolic information, and I feel I am communicating more clearly my intentions. I discovered my cuttings can look like stained glass windows with strong silohuettes and panel formation when hung against a window. And that the installations can be more obviously theatrical with curtains, lighting, huge sweeping shadows and symbolic props.
Craft and Symbolism
In the SUARTS exhibition I tested out some of final degree show cut-out panels, and placed them as a window display. I have found that my cuttings are more symbolic and people responded to them better, as there were recognisable images within them that gave them a more emotional feel. I also learned that by adding more props to my installation it gives more information and communicate a clearer concept. Also I like how the work appears 'beautiful' on the surface but has a darkness at closer inspection.
I can't Scream
I like the form of the installation as its three-dimensionality allows the drama and performative aspects of my work to come through. I like the immersive possibilities of using music and shadow in order to involve the audience and further engulf them.
I want to convey recognisable historical and social symbols. In the past I have used the box to represent society, and used screens, windows, and walls to denote division. The domestic feel of the materials, colours and objects enhance the idea of a comfortable cage. In the west, wooden screens are used to divide rooms and to get dressed behind. In China they were a symbol of wealth and used as a modesty screen. I am fascinated by the history and symbolism of our everyday domestic pieces and what they say about a contemporary society that still use them; showing residues of the past in the present. I like to reference cultural traditions in my work, like styles of furniture, and at the same time subvert them through adding onto and manipulating them..
I also like to contrast the inside and outside in my art, which parallels the ideas of the individual and society. I want the the viewer to be aware of something being created, something artificial in some way. Everything points to things being under a state of control that we may not notice.
The tradition of Chinese paper cutting
Paper cutting in Chinese culture is a self-taught folk craft intermingled with symbolism. Simple materials and simple tools created a close relationship with the artist and the work. It was traditionally used to celebrate and encourage a positive future.
It was also used as a celebration and decoration, expressing the hopes and desires of the people. Specific words and pictures would be chosen to represent things such as luck, prosperity and peace. The content would be dictated by mythology, history, Buddhism and aristocracy. They are part of a collective experience, superstition and culture. The words used had to be appropriate and are vital in their communication to their audience. Now they have become commonplace and instantly recognisable.
I have always used paper cutting in the past to make cards and illustrations. I feel that my cut-outs have a double meaning in that they are subverting a tradition, and although my work contains despair there is an underlying hope and retrospective in it.
I work with very simple methods, tools and designs and with an idiosyncratic mixture of mediums, influenced by various things that I have studied in the past such as music and illustration. As a whole my work does resemble me as a person.
I have chosen a special black Somerset paper as it is easy to cut and it is strong enough to hold the intricate shapes. The fact the paper is 100% cotton harks back to women sewing stories into quilts and this story-telling is something I naturally want to incorporate into the artwork. I am concerned with isolated domestic craft and the ‘sentiment’ of my artwork. The physical process and ‘imperfect’ cutting shows my close relationship with my work and emphasise a rawness and personality.