An expression "Just walked out of the book" takes an entirely literal meaning when applied to the sculptures of Su Blackwell.
A British contemporary artist, Su Blackwell was born in Sheffield, England, and grew up spending a lot of time on her own and playing in the woods.
Inspired by a Chinese paper cutting book she received as a gift, she developed her own personal technique while attending university. She graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2003. Su makes intricate art-works from every-day objects, transforming clothes and books into fantastical three-dimensional forms. Using a scalpel she cuts and glues the pages of books to create miniature dioramas glowing with lights in wood and glass boxes, like Victorian relics found in a museum of intrigue.
She finds her books – or rather lets them find her – by trawling through second-hand book shops. She always reads the book first and this in turn inspires the work. Some of the books that come into the artist’s possession sit on her shelf for months and months. The books themselves, their histories and stories, also interest her. They hold in their pages a record of their past events, as physical objects; their damage, such as frays and stains, makes our relationship with the contents immediate and visceral, and in turn tells another story.
Su says of her work: ”I often work within the realm of fairy-tales and folk-lore. I began making a series of book-sculpture, cutting-out images from old books to create three-dimensional diorama’s, and displaying them inside wooden boxes”.
For the cut-out illustrations, I tend to lean towards young-girl characters, placing them in haunting, fragile settings, expressing the vulnerability of childhood, while also conveying a sense of childhood anxiety and wonder. There is a quiet melancholy in the work, depicted in the material used, and choice of subtle colour.
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."