Su Blackwell created this beautiful sculpture for the cover of The Crane Wife by Patrick Ness.
Q: Please introduce yourself and explain your work.
A: I was born in Sheffield in 1975. My mother was a nurse, my father a gas technician. As a child, I spent a lot of time playing in the woods near to my home, in my own make-believe World. I gave the tree’s names, and believed they would protect me. I made dens, with curtains and carpets that I scavenged from home. I didn’t like school much, except for my English lessons, where I liked writing stories, letting my imagination run free. I floated out of School, not really knowing what to do next. By chance, I happened upon a textiles course run at the local college, and this is something I turned out to really enjoy and begin to feel passionate about. The textile course really suited me, and it fueled my curiosity for texture and materials.
Q: How long have you been working with your paper technique? How did it first start?
A: I started this technique after graduating from RCA in 2003. It started after a trip to Thailand, where I bought a beautiful second-hand book on the Kao San Road. My father had passed away while I was studying at the RCA, and I was thinking about life, death, and the in-between. My first book-sculpture was ‘The Quiet American’. I cut moths from the book with a craft-knife. The piece was inspired by a Chinese legend, about two lovers whose souls re-emerge from burnt ashes in the shape of two Moths. I began working with paper, because of its connection to spiritual rituals that I encountered in South East Asia, and this in turn led me to work with books, and fairy tales.
Q: Your work is quite delicate and full of detail, about how long does it take you to prepare one piece?
A: I always read the book first, at least once or twice, and then I begin to create the work, cutting out, adding details. The detail is what brings it all together, the magic element. It is a tediously slow process.
Q: Do you preview the whole scenario you’re about to create or somehow go with the material flow?
A: have an idea, but I definitely let the materials lead me.
Read more about her beautiful one-of-a-kind artwork here