For most people, fairy-tales stay firmly put on the page. But for artist Su Blackwell, who creates whimsical, intricate paper-cut sculptures from second-hand books, the magical, mythical folkloric creatures spill over into everyday life. From Peter Pan to the Wizard of Oz, snow queens to ice maidens and whirling lit-up merry-go-rounds, words and illustrations rise from the pages in charming 3D forms. She creates scenes from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland as well as swaying sail boats and fish, majestic castles, paper princesses and secret gardens.
Yet, as reflected in the title of her latest exhibition, All the Things I Love Are Going to Disintegrate, currently showing at the Scottish Gallery in Edinburgh, Blackwell is often drawn to the melancholy and loneliness in her chosen fairytales. "I took the title from Leonora Carrington's book The Hearing Trumpet. It works well with the idea of paper that will disintegrate eventually," she explains. "One of the works in the show, While You Were Sleeping, is a dress disintegrating into a skeletal mass of butterflies. It's quite poetic."
Blackwell has been commissioned to create wonderland scenes by everyone from Vogue, Harper's Bazaar and Harvey Nichols to authors looking for inspired, original paper-cut book covers. She sources her books at a second-hand shop in Carlisle, where she used to live. After bringing them back to her London studio and reading them, it can be an illustration or text that sparks an idea. For the show, she has created each delicate piece completely by hand using a scalpel. There's Out of Narnia, a paper forest of trees standing tall with deer running through and a twinkling castle; Betty in Cloudland, with a paper chain of fairies being led out of the book by a mischievous gnome and A Winter Story, set in a snowy Swedish town with a lit alley and rows of miniature houses.
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