Monday, 3 June 2013

SheMe cafe - Butterfly Creation

This is the SheMe café in Taipei. In Chinese its name means ‘Harvesting Rice’. It’s an old rice barn with a café built within its walls that has only been partially restored leaving bare concrete walls and gaps in the walls allowing sunlight and air to move freely in and around the space. This creates a space that is raw and natural.

In December I was invited to create a piece for the café. I wanted to create an artwork that fitted the very distinct atmosphere of this old rice barn

As soon as I saw this wall I knew I wanted to create an artwork for it. The light, colors and texture make this wall special. I wanted the breezes to gently blow the artwork and the sunlight to create flickering shadows on the walls. 

The design I chose is based on a papercut I did a few years ago based on an experience of encountering butterflies gliding in the mists of a high mountain peak.

Here’s the artwork hanging in the studio. The cut itself is sandwiched between layers of fragile handmade paper that contrast with the solidity of the hard, thick heavy walls.

 The piece seemed too solid so I cut holes in it to allow light and air to pass through.

Here’s the piece hanging in the café by day...

and by night…. notice the sunburst effect of the light shining on the wall.

I enjoyed the feeling as an artist of making a piece of work that directly relates to the environment in which it is located.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Lantern Project

I was commissioned to create a lantern for Chinese New Year by Suho Paper Museum.

It took several weeks to design… one of the biggest designs I’ve ever done! I drew and re-drew the design several times until I was happy.

I decided to wrap it around a round paper lightshade. Here I am trying to see if my design fits.

I traced the design onto the back of the silk paper I like to use. I cut two layers of silk paper at the same time…. and boy it took a long time to cut!

And I mean a long time! (note the coffee mug on the art work!!!)

 I tried a number of variations mounting the lantern. I offset the two layers to give a a shadow effect.

In the end I wrapped the whole thing in a fine transparent paper to give the image a translucent shadowy effect.

Hanging in the studio during the final stages. Almost done... Phew!

Here is the finished lantern hanging in one of the beautifully restored buildings of Bo Pi Liao in the Wanhua district of Taipei.

It'll be on display until the end of March 2013. After that it will be going to a private collection.

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Elemental Butterflies

Butterflies are curious creatures. Do they have any sense of their previous existence as munching, crunching, gobbling caterpillars I wonder?

Here are some new painted Butterfly paper cuttings approx A3 in size.

These new butterfly paper cuttings incorporate the elements of Earth, Water, Air, Fire, and Aether.

Earth is where they come from and ultimately where they return to when they die. Fire is the energy that helps them metamorphose from caterpillar to butterfly. Air is where they feel most at home as they ride the breezes and currents from flower to flower. Water is what sustains and feeds them in the form of nectar. Aether is the life giving energy that surrounds everything.

Each of these Elemental Paper Cut Butterflies represents a different element.

Water Butterfly

Earth Butterfly

Fire Butterfly

Earth and Fire dancing together 

There are more to come!

Monday, 14 May 2012


Inspiration comes to me in all kinds of shapes, forms and experiences. So what’s inspiring me at the moment? Well, I was lucky enough to travel down the East coast of Taiwan for a couple of days. A walk to a waterfall where monkeys played in the trees brought me to a beautiful place where there were many butterflies fluttering around oblivious to the rain. There was the butterfly wing I found lying quite beautifully on the ground. 
There were the rotted leaves with only their veins showing. Nature's own version of paper cutting.

Then there’s the urban side of things, here in Taipei. A three-day festival for a god (or gods) has just finished in a nearby street. All kinds of noises echoed round the neighbourhood – firecrackers, horns, brass bands, karaoke and plenty of gongs. 

While at night the nightriders race their souped up bikes along the streets near here. Could they possibly be doing this!

Finally - The Zen of motorcycle riding!

I’m not sure how all these things will enter my work but it’s this process of gathering and keeping the images in my head, adding more imagery and mixing them all together. Then they start to make all kinds of weird and wonderful connections.  Images fuse together and I get an idea for a drawing. I’ll let you know what comes of all this inspiration. 

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Big Butterfly Flow

The fluttering of a butterfly’s wings can effect climate changes on the other side of the planet.
Paul Erlich

'Big Butterfly Flow' is a 100x100cm silk paper cut. Butterflies glide and flutter on breezes of air and cloud. Are they causing the breezes or are they simply taking advantage of them?

The Butterfly effect is the idea that a butterfly‘s wings create a small change in the air around them. This causes a chain of events to unfold that eventually leads to a large weather event such as a storm or a typhoon. Had the butterfly not flapped its wings, everything might have been vastly different. (Adapted from Wikipedia)

There are many times in our life when we may feel as small as a butterfly, and when we think that the things we do have as little effect as the fluttering of a butterfly’s wings.  We think that in our own little space alloted to us, in the small roles given us to play, we make almost no difference in the lives of those around us.

Little however do we know that what we do may truly result in a big difference later on, creating waves of change that would not have happened had we not taken the initiative to do our part. (Anon)

Thursday, 1 March 2012

Lost in Forest Wild

There's an inner child in all of us. Here's one. His name is Daniel. Here he is smiling unaware of his dark shadow behind him. But there's another problem.... He's lost

This silk paper cutting was cut in 2009 and is currently on show at Suho Paper Museum in Taipei.
This silk paper cut is called ‘Lost in Forest Wild’. It’s a kind of fairy tale about Daniel and his adventure in a dark forest. It’s a story of Metamorphosis and discovery. 

The story starts with Daniel happily floating through life. He allows himself to be blown by the breezes of destiny. 

The problem is he’s unknowingly blown into a threatening forest. The trees are hungry!

Daniel is caught by one of the trees. He’s trapped and can’t escape. 

He’s absorbed into the tree. It swallows him up.  He becomes part of the woody insides eventually becoming part of a fruit. 

He realizes he needs to escape. This is the first decision he’s made in a very long time. Using all his strength he breaks out of the fruit and climbs onto the branches. 

He climbs higher and higher until he reaches the top of the tree.  Freedom at last! 

Around him the wind blows, the sun shines and butterflies flutter in the breeze. Through this experience he has rediscovered himself. But will he be able to control his destiny?

Thursday, 16 February 2012

Through Western Eyes

 My current show of paper cuts at Suho Paper Museum in Taipei continues until March 24th. The exhibition is entitled 'Through Western eyes'. As a foreign artist who's lived in Taiwan for 20 years I've become very interested in how my art connects to the culture here both on a conscious and unconscious level. I've appropriated imagery and techniques of traditional paper cutting to create a body of work that will in some way give me a greater sense of my presence in this culture. 

Here are some general views of the show. There are 20 pieces exhibited.

The museum provided a corner where visitors could make their own paper cuts and display them. So far there are more than a hundred made by young and old alike. Fantastic!

Some early examples.

Three of my 'Floating World' series are grouped together creating a visual feast of line, colour and shadow.

'Earthstar' and shadow. Where does the artwork end and the shadow begin?

This is the story of how my character Daniel gets lost in a wild forest. I'll write in more detail about this paper cut in the near future.

More shadows. Look carefully and you'll see Daniel riding a dragon. One of the great things about this museum was that they allowed me to experiment with how the work is displayed, so I could play with light and shadows.

Butterfly flow. A new piece. I love peering through these hanging cuts. It's like peering through into another world. I'll write in more detail about this in the near future too.