18 - panelled Paper Cage & Art Statement
part of the Ingram Collection
Show 'Walls' at Rich Mix, as part of Chinese Arts Now Festival 2020
Pillars tower above us, looming and great.
Flowers wind around the curly casement gates.
Delicate and gentle, pretty, but strong.
We sew even deeper into this cloth.
We smile and enjoy
the leisure it brings
but this gift was given to us
It did not come from each's within...
I am a light and shadow paper cutting artist and songwriter who makes immersive and atmospheric installations / spaces. I refer to my artworks as psychological cages as they represent the microcosm of the mind. There is a conflict lurking within my intricate cuttings of comfort as well as isolation and anxiety.
I hand cut cotton paper to have a close relationship with what I create, rather like sewing a quilt at home, it reflects a storytelling within a private, domestic and intimate setting.
On the one hand my works are psychosocial and look at the relationship between the individual and their community. Stemming from people I know and my own experiences, I look at issues of gender, shame, alienation, illness as well as a lack of autonomy. I strip away labels, identities, and mask appearances to unveil a narrative about mental health and its relationship with the outside world. Emotions are an underestimated aspect of society, and this combined with the need to belong, can reveal a great deal not only about the individual and their social status, but also about their environment. I look at how emotions embed trauma into the unconscious leading to chronic psychological damage, and the after affects of this. These cages are safe havens for the individual that contain a preserved and haunting past. They are filled with longing and self-protection from a threatening and pressured world.
On the other hand I look at the nature of decoration in general, which appears quite innocent on the surface but underneath can conceal deep seated beliefs, influence, propaganda, history and a patriarchy. Decoration and aesthetics have been used religiously, culturally and superstitiously to control, tame, overwhelm, demean and delight the audience. Chinese decoration in particular, contains many symbols and words that are universally understood and structure a way of living and thinking. Certain familiar patterns contain social meanings and a recognised status, and this feeds into the insecurity of the individual who seek to uphold such ancient rules and concepts. A gold medal or trophy, powerful, Grand Greek and Roman Columns in architecture, small, quiet, delicate and feminine Victorian florals, or even the size and cut of a diamond are all desirable, admired or have an established place in our visual vocabulary. Subconsciously they are saying something about how to be, and we may measure ourselves against these patterns of what is deemed good or bad, acceptable or wrong, valuable or unworthy, beautiful or disgusting.
Paper cutting and songwriting for me are ways to depict patterns both figuratively and metaphorically in the mind and of the outside world. There is a pressure to adhere to them in order to integrate, benefit and advance oneself into a normalised community. Yet the issue with organised and fixed patterns is that they can hinder some forms of self-expression, difference and some truths.
My works are cathartic and are a way of processing and analysing the inevitable challenge of certain individuals who are trying to assimilate into a complex communal and public arena. I look at the idea of struggle and restriction of the body and mind, and how these can be related to and exacerbated by strict social conventions. Essentially my art seeks to connect and communicate in some way with the viewer, in a very human way with the universal language of emotion and mentality.