Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Book-cut Sculpture of Su Blackwell

Here is an artist to watch, if you haven't encountered her work already - Su Blackwell, whose gallery includes sculptures in which fairy tale images explode out of open books into active silhouettes of paper and ink - like 12 Dancing Princesses, above, or Alice: Through the Looking Glass, below.

There is something haunting and terribly ephemeral about Blackwell's work - and therefore, beautiful. These are dreamscapes, but stark ones. The dancing princesses are almost alive, almost dancing - yet they remain harshly cut thin paper figures in black and white. See how the princess on the left longs -- longs -- to be free of the pages, straining, much as the princesses in the fairy tale long to be free of their confiningly conventional royal world, longing for that liberty so badly that they spring from their beds each midnight and dance and dance until their shoes are destroyed.

Here is what Su Blackwell has to say about her own work:

Paper has been used for communication since its invention; either between humans or in an attempt to communicate with the spirit world. I employ this delicate, accessible medium and use irreversible, destructive processes to reflect on the precariousness of the world we inhabit and the fragility of our life, dreams and ambitions.

It is the delicacy, the slight feeling of claustrophobia, as if these characters, the landscape have been trapped inside the book all this time and are now suddenly released. A number of the compositions have an urgency about them, the choices made for the cut-out people from the illustrations seem to lean towards people on their way somewhere, about to discover something, or perhaps escaping from something. And the landscapes speak of a bleak mystery, a rising, an awareness of the air.

...which shows that Blackwell is poet as well as sculptor. And indeed poetry is probably the best word for the making that she has done. Visit her gallery and let us know what you think!


Jennie MacDonald said...

Su Blackwell's magical windows at Harvey Nichols department store in London and Edinburgh for Christmas 2007 were breathtaking. The photographs (under Commissions on her website) can hardly convey the luminous urgency of the faery figures, all so different from one another, caught in individual moments of strange contemplation and joy.

Dante's Heart said...

Dear readers,

Jennie MacDonald has written a wonderful review (with photography) of another of Su Blackwell's recent projects - you can read the review here, in Issue 2 of Dante's Heart: