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Tuesday, 24 August 2010

More paper prayers...

My Norfolk sky prayer.

Karolina Stolarska's prayer.

Jo's prayer.

Karen's prayer.

Central Methodist Church congregation prayers (above and below)

Paper prayers....

Monday, 23 August 2010

Archive - "People, Paper, Prayers" - exhibiton of paper cut prayers 2009

The “People, Paper, Prayers – the Thank You Project” at Central Methodist Church in Letchworth in 2009, grew out of the architectural cut exhibition at First Garden City Heritage Museum. David and Anita Latter (senior members of Central Methodist church) came to see the exhibition on one of the days I was demonstrating. We got chatting animatedly - I had always liked Anita very much, and David too, but it was Anita that I knew from years ago when I took my son and daughter as babies to the Central Methodist Church Tea and Toddlers group. Anita was so friendly there and I was in awe of her commitment to the group by weekly preparing arty/crafty activities for the toddlers and mums to do. It took her a lot of time to prepare the components, to come up with new ideas etc and she did that every week. I admired her faith and generosity of spirit.

Anyway, we got talking. Laughed over times past and children now in teenagerdom (me) and hers in new homes and babies eras. I said that I had always wanted to make some paper pieces for a church. I had made textiles for churches before, but never had my cuts hung in that kind of space. I had tried at St. Hugh’s but they had bought a large icon for the refurbishment and my quirky paper cuts were just too much of a jump I think. It was interesting what I learnt then, let’s just say it lead me to really ask what I believe and who I am.

Back to the Anita/David talk. They were really interested in the idea of hanging the cuts in the church. It needed to be discussed with the main members of the church of course and happily the go ahead was given. I think it helped that the paper cuts are so light. They only need hanging with fishing wire and are very light, needing a drawing pin at most to hang from. We thought the Heritage Open Days Weekend would be a good focus for the event. It was very exciting for me... to see at last my cuts hanging free in a church. I couldn’t wait. I then spent a very large part of August cutting text in the studio in the early morning and the quiet times after the evening meal when the kids were happy to have some telly time.

The Thanksgiving theme...leading to a bit of a crisis of faith....

We needed a theme to work to too. I know I couldn’t make thirty unique prayers and besides I wanted to involve the parish. I wanted to be able to serve the parish, using my hands and skills to make their thoughts and prayers real and valued. David’s idea was to have thank you prayers and that fitted perfectly. I emailed friends for prayers, prayers came anonymously too from the congregation as well as very personal ones that moved me hugely. It was much harder than I thought. Look at most prayers and the content is plea based, asking God for something: help, guidance, company, healing or words that allowed inner individual pain to be expressed. This was different, this was saying thank you for what we have been given in our lives. I wanted to say thank you for my children and my family, for the elements – but it set me on a whole struggle that I am in now. Do I believe that God made me? Made the world? Made the trees and the birds of the air? I am not sure. I don’t know. Evolution makes a lot more sense and I know that Adam and Eve are essentially allegorical. I think perhaps that there is an ultimate creative force in the world from which all good comes. I know directly from experience that more good makes more good, whilst evilness and selfishness will always seek to destroy in many small and large ways. I find it terribly hard too grasp that that ultimate creative force became a man and lived on earth. For me it’s a human way of explaining the mysteries that our brains are just too small to understand.

I think you can say I am having a fundamental think about things, a crisis of faith in part. I certainly know that I am not a tow-the-line Catholic. I know there is something/someone calling me. It keeps happening. I walk away and I get called back and back again. This beatles song makes me think of being called again and again and its always when I feel lost.

I will shortly post the prayers I cut and hung in the church. It was a fantastic weekend and I got the chance to meet some really lovely people too. I will always be grateful top the church for showing my work, inviting me into a place that is so precious to them. It was a lovely, lovely experience.

Paper, Scissors, Stone - exhibition papercuts...

Here are some of the photos of the work and the show...

Norton Way House, Letchworth Garden City, Herts

Town Lodge,Letchworth Garden City, Herts

Snooker Hall,Letchworth Garden City, Herts

Mrs.Howard Memorial Hall, Letchworth Garden City, Herts,

Liberal Catholc Chuch,Letchworth Garden City, Herts

Letchworth Library,Letchworth Garden City, Herts

Icknield Way House,Letchworth Garden City, Herts

Hillshott School,Letchworth Garden City, Herts

Broadway Cinema,Letchworth Garden City, Herts

Arial Letchworth,Letchworth Garden City, Herts

Anne Muir House,The Quadrant,Letchworth Garden City, Herts

The museum window with a decal of my Broadway Cinema detail.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Archive - "Paper,Scissors, Stone" exhibition

First Garden City Heritage Museum 2008 - "Paper,Scissors,Stone"
Architectural paper cuts exhibition by Vanessa Stone

This exhibition of architectural paper cuts marks a turning point in my work. I had been cutting paper since early 2007 after at least six months or so of experimenting with stencils and just making paintings. The first paper cuts I did were essentially white line cuts, very similar in feel to Eric Gill’s nudes. His are sublimely elegant of course and I wanted to capture a similar line, a sparseness and perfection. My nude back comes the closest in a way I think, but I bow to Gill – his are masterful!
There is a darker side to his though, they aren’t as simple as they appear, especially when you think about who the sitters are and when you take into account Gill’s nature – this is brilliantly explored in Fiona McCarthy's book about Eric Gill.Back in 2007 I had cut bodies and poems and very slowly my own voice started to emerge. It was tentative. I hung onto making paintings too, trying to keep one foot in both camps of being a painter and a paper cutter. However, you can’t keep a foot in two floating boats! Something had to give; I needed to commit to one thing only and not try to be all things to all men. So I waved a sort of goodbye to painting and textiles. I don’t think its forever, maybe just an au revoir.

A breakthrough came with making a great big paper cut of the Town Hall
in Letchworth. It’s a great building, set on its own. It’s the epitome of toy town in its shape, like the wooden blocks you have as a kid to make a wooden town. Look across at the Town Hall from The Grammar School and Letchworth looks exactly like Toy Town. People scaled, modest, not overly decorative or puffed up, that’s Letchworth architecturally all over.

With the Town Hall cut finished and a photo emailed to Josh Tidy, Curator at First Garden City Heritage Museum He loved it, hadn’t seen anything like it before and so we started to talk about the possibility of an exhibition of architectural paper cuts. A few meetings later and the ball was rolling nicely, an exhibition was planned for Sept/Oct 2008. This was a fair leap of faith for the museum. It isn’t a commercial gallery or a large museum and they hadn’t had a show like this before, so taking a chance on an artist that cuts into paper was a bold step. I will be eternally grateful. When the work was all done and up it was fantastic to see – so many of my cuts together and not just framed but hanging free too.

And so there it was a tangible big step forward into the unknown and falling in love all over again with architecture.

And so in the next posting here, is the work... some of my paper cuts of Letchworth Garden City. You can get to see the exhibition on line just click here.

Monday, 9 August 2010

I should be doing.....

I should be starting some cuts of St. Albans Cathedral this week, but I have been distracted by having a tiny play with cyanotypes. Cyanotypes come from the earliest beginnings of photography and are made by coating paper in a solution thats light sensitive. Lay something on the top of the paper and that which is exposed to the light goes white and under the object goes an amazingly deep cyan blue. They are sometimes called sunprints. The line you get is so beautiful, clean and crisp beyond measure almost. I have a very stronge feeling that this will simply be the start of something.... an exciting journey to go on...and thats something I love,love,love doing...