Paper has been in existence for over two millennia and is universally recognised for its uses; ranging from communication, insulation, protection, and art. Today I learnt how it could be used to create sculptures.
Wakefield-based artists Andy Singleton and Richard Sweeny are holding monthly workshops at Westgate Studios. After a couple of failed attempts to attend, the third date luckily suited me and I finally managed to get along to the event on Saturday 21 September.
Unlike their previous workshops, which were packed with a dozen interested people from teachers to artists, my workshop only had three people booked on, and two of us actually turned. Myself and Sam, an emerging paper cut artist who graduated from the Fine Arts degree at Leeds College of Art in 2012, were honoured that the workshop continued and got a lot of space and time with the artists to chat and learn.
Both Andy and Richard are very different artists but equally as successful. Having graduated in 2007 from Manchester they are now full time artists with their own studio spaces and a long list of commissions and exhibitions behind them. Andy takes inspiration from the natural world and creates organic hanging forms with shaped cut paper. Richard is more geometric and mathematical in his approach, folding and shaping paper, cutting shapes and finding patterns to repeat and build molecule-type shapes.
The guys split the day in two, with the morning learning about Andy’s process and the afternoon exploring Richard’s. We got some templates that they developed to use, before progressing to using the same concepts to explore our own ideas. We had lots of choice of paper colours but both said they prefer to use black or white in their works so the colour didn’t distract from the form.
At the end of the day the tips of my fingers were numb from using the scalpel and my head was full of ideas of how to bring my own style to paper sculpture. I need practice and the time to figure out my own ways, but I liked it and have put it on my list as potentially being my thing. The artists were really encouraging of all of our work during the workshop and suggested lots of experimenting and prototyping.
Sam and I were really lucky to be invited to have a peek at Richard and Andy’s studios before we left. They had lovely spaces at the very top of the Grade II listed building, with Mary Poppins style roof top vistas over the city. I could see the benefit of having dedicated work and storage space to store your pieces sensibly and have all your tools at hand. When they were starting out both shared a studio before their practice expanded and so did the space they needed to work. Seeing how much can be done when your area is well set up has motivated me to try to organise my own spare room in preparation for second year.