Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Butterfly Lamp

FINALLY! After months of dithering I finally finished making this lamp. I cut the image out of silk then glued it to the inside of a white lampshade and voila! It’s done, finished, and complete. The reason I’m so happy is that my studio is littered with half finished projects which sit around gathering dust. At least there is now one project less to worry about!

The lamp is 55cm high and is lit by two light bulbs. Only when the light is on will you see the silhouette of the silk cut. When the lights are off only the white lampshade is visible

As with a lot of recent work my fascination with elaborate butterflies continues. In this one the butterflies float on wafting breezes.

My website has recently been updated so why not pop over and take a look.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Butterfly Creation

October was a month of upheaval as I moved my art studio out the apartment to a bigger place. Of course all kinds of complications arise and, as I sit here in the new studio, I realize that the tool I really need is still at home!

Adding to the confusion is a lack of internet access which means I haven’t been able to blog for quite a while.

Despite all that I've still managed a bit of silk paper cutting. Here is the latest piece called ‘Butterfly Creation’ (diameter 65cm). This first picture is of the work in progress - half cut. It took several weeks to cut as I could only work a couple of hours a day to avoid permanent damage to my eyes.

Here's the finished work hanging in an open space. At 65cm diameter it's pretty big. A giant swirl of butterflies swarm together riding thermals of air or clinging to each other. They seem unsure as to where to go next.

Why butterflies you ask? Taiwan, where I live and work, is famous for the sheer number of butterflies that can be seen...

... but to me they represent a fleeting moment in time. Their lives are short and yet they are incredibly tough despite their fragile nature. Their beauty is intoxicating as they waft along on breezes searching for food and mates.

I hope you enjoy them.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Love hearts

Ahhh! Love! Lovely Love.

As old as humanity itself. Written about, cried over, argued heatedly, said endearingly and so on and so on.

For my art ‘love’ is the passion and the energy which drives me to create.

Here are two beautiful sayings on love. Can you see them in amongst the twisted energy of the silk paper cut?

Love is Blind.

Soul Meets Soul on Lovers’ Lips

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Typhoon Relief

August was NOT a good month. Health issues raised an ugly head creating a period of anxiety and worry. Tests revealed no major problems, which brought a sigh of relief. When things like that happen one’s attention becomes very distracted and unstable.

Meanwhile Typhoon Morakot, which though it did not affect us here in Taipei, devastated parts of southern Taiwan. One village with 500 people simply disappeared as the mountain behind it turned to mud and buried the place and its inhabitants. I cannot imagine the pain caused by such a disaster.

Last Saturday to show our support for the relief effort 16 artists spent a whole day creating works of art, which were then auctioned off in the evening. It was a fantastic experience. I’ve never seen artists work so hard to produce so much. By the end of the evening we’d made over US15,000 and was deemed a wild success. I’m so glad I participated.

My silk paper cut took 3 days to prepare prior to the event (I was the only non painter). Titled 'Hope' the tree represents a new beginning. In Taiwan’s mountains once the trees are felled the ground becomes very unstable. Put the trees back and life returns.

A great atmosphere!

Artists working hard


Friday, 31 July 2009

The Shadowed Artist

When I started blogging I promised myself at least 2 postings per month. Sometimes that gets hard, but when it happens and it’s and out there for all to see life becomes a little more satisfying. So, before July closes in six hours or so, here is my second post for this month.

I was always a little nerdy as a teen. I didn’t dare to have my ears pierced or to dye my hair though I secretly envied those who did so. More recently it has been tattoos. I love unique tattoos that tell stories or have a history. A friend, ‘M’, has endless tattoos running up his arms and onto his shoulders. Each of them has a story to tell. Then there is Charles, whose work involves images of crows and dragons. He’s taken it one step further and tattooed his characters onto his arm. I am envious of this life long commitment to art and skin. Another artist who interests me is Rice Freeman-Zachery whose amazing art focuses on journal writing. Not journal writing in the conventional sense but journals woven and stitched onto clothing and quilts and I’m sure her tattoos are part of her life’s journal too.

And there is me. Even as a performance artist in the early to mid 1980’s I was too cowardly to get tattooed, dye my hair or get a piercing. I still am, so what is there left for me to do with my body..?


Here are pictures of me hiding behind some recent silk paper cuts (Cloud). It looks as if I really am Lost in Forest Wild! (which is another recently finished work) The covering of temporary shadows has given me a brief glimpse of what it’d be like to be covered in tattoos. It looks exotic enough right now, but the problem with tattoos is if they can keep their meaning in the future. Luckily for me I can just turn the light off and my shadowed body disappears instantly!

Friday, 24 July 2009

Butterfly Cloud silk paper cutting

Recently I've been thinking of my silk paper art work and my relationship with it. It all started with an interview published on Who Hub (You can read the interview here). Then I bought some spotlights and started seriously exploring shadows and translucency in my work. By hanging the silk paper cuts in space and lighting them in various ways it really opened up a new dimension to what is normally seen as a 2D artform. Now I have discovered a whole new direction within my silk paper cutting work.
As an example here's a new piece I've been working on for some time. Called Butterfly Cloud it is approx 65cm diameter and cut in four colours. Clouds are light as are butterflies. They seem to hang effortlessly in space and yet they are constantly moving and evolving as if possessed by a life giving energy.
The first picture shows the blue version hanging and lit from the front which throws a shadow on the wall behind.
Here's the same one but lit from the back creating a very dark yet graphic image. There are two butterflies enjoying the cloud.

There's a butterfly fluttering in a gap in the clouds. It is almost like a cave with tree roots spreading through the open space.

For these two pictures I layered two colours together slightly off centre and backlit the work. The result is always unexpected and revealing. I like the translucence and the way the colours play off one another.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

A Birthday Commission

Now and then I get a request for a commission. Since I love telling stories I jump at the chance to do something for a particular person.
This one, just finished, was commissioned for the 50th birthday of a doctor. He practices western medicine but was born, raised and trained in Taiwan. Therefore the imagery used is a mix of western and Chinese symbolism.

The picture shows a crane sitting atop a staff. Two snakes are entwined around the staff. The crane is holding a lotus flower whilst clouds swirl around a lantern.

The winged staff with the snakes is called the Cadeceus. It is the symbol of medicine and medical practitioners. In Greek mythology, Asclepius was the patron of medicine and son of Apollo. The staff represents his authority and the snakes signify renewal as they are able to shed their skins. The ‘L’ on the staff is the roman numeral for 50 – the doctor’s age.

On top of the staff sits a Crane. It is one of the most favoured of all Chinese bird symbols. It’s the symbol for longevity as well as representing health, and happiness. The crane is holding a lotus flower, which symbolizes longevity and purity. Interestingly every part of the lotus plant, from roots to petals, can be used for food or medicine.

The clouds symbolize wisdom and nobility whilst the lantern is life giving, a beacon that provides, safety and hope.

The Chinese characters at the lower right are the Doctor’s name and title whilst those on the left say, ‘Happy Birthday!’ Also, hidden in the clouds is the doctor’s Chinese nickname.

I am always interested in taking on new and exciting projects like the one above, so get in touch and lets see what we can come up with.

Monday, 15 June 2009


In the beginning there was, well, an awful lot of cloud and ether. The clouds swirled and mixed creating a potent brew of life forms. Out of this biological stew came all kinds of beasts - veggie beasts, pesky beasts, spikey beasts, watery beasts to name but a few.  Some good, some bad, some indifferent to what was going on around them, but all essential to the creative process.

This silk paper cut says more about what's going on in my head than any religious idea of creation. I like the idea of an internal energy constantly churning, never settling. An energy full of anomalies that take the form of a variety of physical forms. Stories give structure to all this, so use your imagination, take a close look and make your own.   

This new piece has been hanging around the studio for a few weeks. Then one day the sun shone and so I hung it and was wowed by the shadows and transparency of the silk. There are two layers of silk paper that hang loosely together. With the light flooding through and gentle breezes moving of the work, it creates an ever changing glimpse into some uncharted cloud or forest. 

Those bugs fascinate me with their minute perfection, coloured bodies, scratchiness and how they can be found in every nook and cranny you dare to look.

These pictures in low light clearly show the intertwined imagery of the different layers of silk paper.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Lost in Forest Wild Part 3

Nearly done!!! This is a project I've been working on for 4 months so far. It's a kind of fairy tale cut out of silk paper. By gluing several sheets of the paper together together, before cutting out the image, the paper can stand by itself. The idea that I can join all the silk paper cuts together into a kind of concertina book. 

The story so far (see previous posts on March 10 and April 24 for parts 1 & 2):-
Daniel idly wanders into a forest where he is attacked by a gnarled, hungry tree. The unfortunate boy (Daniel) is overcome and finds himself being absorbed into the tree's pithy wood.

But Daniel is not as weak as he seems. Despite his dreamy looks there is a strength that dwells inside him. Exerting all his strength he breaks free of the branches (above).

Then he forces his way up through the tree towards the light of the sky.

Once at the top he rejoices in his freedom. The winds come to whisk him away to safety.

Just to make the project even more difficult for myself I am now cutting out a page of text to accompany each picture. When will it ever end!!!!?????

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Show Opening

These are pictures from our 'successful' opening last weekend. 100 guests turned up - they drank all the wine, ate all the snacks, created a fantastic atmosphere, but didn't buy much!!! Despite that we all had a fantastic time. We were lucky enough to have Mia and Scott from Moving Sound give a performance.  They were joined by singers Ayesha and Anya. My work became  backdrop to their atonal chants. Truly wonderful music!

This large hanging piece "Lost in Forest Wild' (version 1) seemed to attract most attention. I put it at the last moment just to what it would look like. Other works which I laboured over (especially the framing) didn't get half as much attention.

General views of the opening. 

The 'culprits' (l to R) Debby, Thomas, Roma, Me

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

The Five Elements

If you are in Taipei this upcoming weekend then you are very welcome to join the opening of the joint show titled 'Five Elements'. 

I'll post pics of the exhibition once I get a chance to take some decent pictures!

The show title is a very loose way to involve all five artists.  We've all interpreted it in different ways. For me the Anais Nin quote sums up my approach best - "The artist is the only one who knows that the world is a subjective creation, that there is a choice to be made, a selection of elements."

Friday, 24 April 2009

Lost in Forest Wild part 2

Here's the second installment of my story, 'Lost in Forest Wild'. A three part tale composed of 10 silk paper cuts (see Part 1 dated March 10 below). It's inspired by fairy tales, nightmares and childhood memories of walking through dark woods as a dare.

The story continues:-

Having wandered aimlessly for a long time, our foolish hero, Daniel, finds himself lost in a forest. It's a dark and hungry place with not a breath of fresh air nor the rustle of a rabbit in the grass. All is dead or that's what he thinks it is. Gradually Daniel becomes entwined in thorny branches and long strands of grass. It's only when he realizes that he is being attacked that he tries to flee. But it's too late. The trees have woken and are desperate for lunch!

One ancient gnarled tree will do anything to get Daniel. With all its strength it quickly encircles the boy, stifling his screams. Shapes in the branches seem to suggest other, equally terrifying beasts.

Sharp scratchy tendrils tear into his flesh and overwhelm the poor boy. They cut down to his bones and greedily drink the life force within him.

Poor old Daniel. The tree has absorbed him into its pithy flesh. He almost looks like an apple as his face becomes ossified and grainy. Does he have a chance to escape I wonder?

Check in soon to find the answer to Daniels dilemma!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Daniel is swept away

I have a real problem finishing work off. I spend hours designing and cutting a piece, then when the cut is almost done I get bored with it (or is it fear?) and so I put it to one side and leave it until another time. This piece has been hanging around for about a year and I've finally gotten around to finishing it. Yippee!
As usual it is a silk paper cut (red and gold silk paper mounted on white). This time I experimented by adding an extra layer of gold silk behind the red image to emphasize the flowing water.

The story is simple, but as yet unresolved. Daniel, the clumsy boy he is, has tumbled into a raging torrent. Swept away, his calls for help are unheard above the roar of the water.

The waves see their chance and crash down on him pulling him deeper under the water.

Daniel is overwhelmed and gives in ... or does he? Is this the end for my hapless hero? I don't think so ... I have some ideas as to how he escapes, but I'm not gonna tell!