Earlier in January, I went to see the “First Cut” Exhibition at Manchester City Gallery with my class. I felt it was an exceptionally innovative exhibition, as it had been curated with the idea of exploring a new art technique, uniting the concept of traditional craft with that of fine art and bringing it into the gallery sphere. The exhibition pulled together 31 International artists, some of which you would recognise immediately; Rob Ryan is just one artist familiar from his illustrations in Elle or recent Liberty campaigns with his kooky cut-outs and storyline silhouettes.  The exhibition is one of many, taking the leap from showcasing an artisan’s delicate craft to fine art. Because paper-cutting is no longer just a craft, it is fingers up to the likes of Ol Damien and a return to pure unadulterated talent. Artful paper-cutting is a tediously delicate process, that requires abnormal amounts of patience, incessant concentration and the ability to not cut your own fingers off in a rage which is what happened whenever I tried to make Christmas snowflakes at school for my mum.

The exhibition showed just how versatile paper can be, and using one of the most underrated materials, created different themes for the viewer to explore. With paper the potential to create is endless, and while paints and are expensive, paper is practically everywhere. Running themes, such as ‘Imaginary worlds’ were explored, poetic fantasies created out of powerful silhouettes. Mia Pearlman created a spinning whirlpool of white, a cyclonic storm that twisted and turned into an intense pool of quiet. Suspended in air, she captured movement expressed through paper. It is amazing how such a slow process can create such momentum, using very frail material. Her work SUBITO, even managed to fly away at the Pulse NY Art fair in 2010 and land in someone else’s booth.


We were also made aware of our demands upon this fragile planet; artists such as Yuken Teruya challenge the way we view our earth and its resources, and the damaging effects of its growing consumerism. NOTICE – FOREST is a paper bag sculpture series, each work brings to life a small tree. The tree appears to be held up by the burger king bag, but infact it really it supports the structure. It becomes a visual metaphor of the power of nature from which the bag grows, and created this idea of a recycled circle in my mind. What you take, you must give back. Respect mother nature.

The other thing that I remember loving was the salvaging of ancient books, dusty maps and loads of porn magazines. I think I even saw someone take scissors too Wuthering Heights….Sue Blackwell turned the tragic drama into a three-dimensional landscape complete with eerie house and twisted dark branches. Being able to see an idea from a completely different angle, whether it be a contemporary issue such as earth’s sustainability or even the re-creation of a classic novel, was the defining theme of “First cut” and one that has kept me thinking about the art of paper-cutting for months and months.


I also found this interview with ROB about “First Cut”….

Images courtesy of, (Photograph by Jaron James). I also apologise for the hundreds of spelling mistakes riddled within this post.


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