John Callaghan: New Papercuts

Proverbs make good papercut subjects. They’re amusing, curious and wise. The images are simple and the accompanying type suits the medium, providing interesting shapes and complexity to the image.

I first discovered papercuts in London in the early 90’s when I bought a book on the intricate work of two 19th Century men – one a shepherd and the other a postman.  I later found papercuts exist in many cultures including Chinese, Polish and Jewish.

As a technique papercut has some very strict limitations.  I both enjoy and am frustrated by the demands of having to communicate an idea with only line, mass and pattern.  Detail is restricted to what you can cut with a knife or woodcut chisel and there is little variation in line quality.  Silhouette is the main concern when designing.

The design process has an engineering aspect to it. There needs to be sufficient interconnection and overlapping of the elements for the work to hold together as one piece. All works are cut from a single sheet of hand-coloured paper, with extra colour applied by stencil after the cutting is completed. Cutting is done by hand with a scalpel or small chisels and gouges.

Artists in Exhibition: 
John Callaghan
Date of Exhibition: 
9 August - 9 September
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