Su Blackwell by Madalyn Meadows
When it comes to artwork I will admit that I do not enjoy art pieces that take something that wasn't created by the artist and only add minor changes. For example, there is the Fountain by Marcel Duchamp, this sculpture is a urinal that Duchamp bought and signed himself before sending it to a museum to be displayed. There is also the statue which was also not made by the artist, all the artist did was dump it in an ocean and then brought it back to the surface to be properly displayed. While I do understand the point of these particular artworks is to reverse your expectations of an artist and an artwork, I still personally do not enjoy these types of work. However, I did come across a wonderful artist that does something similar to these classical works, but she adds more of a creative flare that makes her pieces stand out among the rest.
Su Blackwell is a book artist who takes pre-existing book works and cuts through the pages in order to recreate a scene from the book. It seems like a simple concept but there is much more to it than that. She only uses pages from the book to create the sculptural piece. It is like bringing a scene from the book to life. This craft can take up at least two to three months. Before Blackwell begins this process, she must start off by reading the chosen book first and foremost. She will read through the entire book, there will be a scene that stands out the most in her mind. That will be the scene that is recreated and brought to life. In order to create her images, she uses trace paper to sketch out an image onto the book before carefully cutting the piece out with an scalpel and a cutting mat under the page. Then she carefully removes the cut image, not all the way so that the page is still attached to the book. She will use a card or wire to keep the silhouette up in place, this way these wonderful precised images can be displayed in a more sculptural light.
Her interest in this particular craft didn't come around until she had a trip to Asia in 2003. There she saw that paper was burned in use for spiritual ceremonies and rituals. "Paper has been used for communication since its invention; either between humans or in an attempt to communicate with the spirit world. Su employs this delicate, accessible medium and uses irreversible, destructive processes to reflect on the precariousness of the world we inhabit and the fragility of our life, dreams and ambitions," (Blackwell Profile.) Out of all the books she has read, the book she is drawn to the most is Alice and Wonderland.
Going though her gallery, I found many wonderful pieces of artwork she had created. My personal favorites are The Velveteen Rabbit and The Observer Book of Butterflies. I love the glass dome containing all the beautifully crafted butterflies. It puts in perspective that we are the observers, watching over these beautiful butterflies as they leave the book. In The Velveteen Rabbit, I can see a lot of incredible craftsmanship. I can imagine how tricky it must have been to carefully cut out all those little pieces of grass and trees. The velveteen rabbit looks absolutely adorable and I love the subtle glow of the flower.
Plumlines at Croome Court, 2016 - 2017
Commissioned by The National Trust
The Observer Book of Butterflies, 2018
Roses and Carnations, 2018
The Velveteen Rabbit, 2019 Private Commission
11/24/2019 11:16:31 am
This was a fasinating read about Su Blackwell. An artist that takes the time to read a book completely before she starts working is such an insperation. I love the photos that you added and the history of why she started. All in all, a very great essay about something that you love.
11/26/2019 09:36:17 am
I completely agree with the whole thing about art being made by an artist and not just something with no work being called art. It is a complex world we live in. I also love when people use preexisting books to make beautiful works. I even had to do that once with an altered book in high school. It is a very trendy thing now-a-days.
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