For four years now I have been lucky enough to live in an area of incredible natural beauty. Being a city dweller prior to this I have relished spending time absorbed in nature, trailing through forests and stumbling across incredible coves and seascapes. This occupies much of my free time with my family. However one place that has crept under my skin and made me return again and again is Mottisfont – an ancient abbey in Hampshire.
The entire place exudes a distinct calm and creative energy – which both adults and kids delight in. Built by the river Test, it’s rich history dates back to times when it was used as an Augustinian priory. Following the Dissolution of the Monasteries decreed by Henry VIII it was dissolved and became a large Estate which passed hands between the rich of the time. The most interesting owners by far were the Russells who moved in around 1934. Maud Russell, a wealthy patron of the arts, had a somewhat racy lifestyle full of affairs with artists and writers, including Ian Fleming. She collected and commissioned a great wealth of art work, including commissioning Rex Whistler to create the illusion of gothic architecture in her ‘Whistler Room’.
Today it has the most beautiful gardens to walk through and ponder in, creative pursuits organised for children, streams shallow enough to paddle in bare foot and most wonderful of all, a changing exhibition programme showcasing 20th-Century and contemporary art. Many exhibitions have taken place since I discovered this place and I have seen an original illustration by Arthur Rackham, photographs of Land Art by Andy Goldsworthy and beautiful sculptures of angels amongst many other works.
My favourite exhibition so far has been one celebrating the art of paper-cutting. It featured the works of many great artists including Rob Ryan whose work really reminds me of the human experiences we all seem to share.
My love of paper-cutting and silhouette work began in the illustrated books of my childhood. Arthur Rackham has been a lifelong inspiration to me and the silhouette images in his children’s books are still imprinted firmly in my mind. The Book Illustrator Jane Ray produces some excellent silhouettes and in some of my own illustrations silhouettes seem to find a place. Shadow puppets cut from paper are also full of memories for me – I even attempted to make some of my own as a teenager studying art! I plan to create some new versions this year.
One of my most favourite artists who primarily uses paper-cutting as a way of creating art is Beatrice Coron. Her artistic journey is incredibly inspiring and her work is just stunning. Her art comes from a similar root to mine – that of narrative and storytelling and that is why I find her work so appealing. I found this TED lecture in which Beatrice explains her journey and work very inspirational:
For more paper cut images you can follow my Pinterest board
I am now armed with a craft knife, paper and self-healing mat and one of my main aims for this year is to create huge paper-cut images and sculptures – I may even make some paper dresses of my own! Ultimately my interest is in the light and shadow that can be produced beyond the image itself . Paper-cutting is about to become my new obsession!