Su Blackwell is a British artist, she studied textiles at the Royal College of Art and is well known for her delicate sculptures created out of books. Blackwell gained her inspiration for using books in her work when traveling in south-east Asia, “I came across rituals and ceremonies where paper was used so I started experimenting with that” (Su Blackwell 2011 – http://www.ideastap.com/IdeasMag/The-Knowledge/su-blackwell-interview )
Once questioned on her use of material, Blackwell responded “When I first started making the sculptures it was quite difficult to cut into the books – especially making the first cut. But I don’t use first editions or very rare books. Most of the books I use would end up being thrown away or sitting in old bookshops anyway.”(Su Blackwell 2011 – http://www.ideastap.com/IdeasMag/The-Knowledge/su-blackwell-interview ) I find this use of medium interesting; it is not “destroying a work of art to create another type of art” (Ruth Stokes 2011 – http://www.ideastap.com/IdeasMag/The-Knowledge/su-blackwell-interview ) but rather creating works of art inspired by literature, books are quite often left unread, and there are millions of copies of millions of books in the world so using books as a medium to work with, to me does not seem like a waste. I find that the words from a book, when well-chosen can add something to the piece of art rather than the piece of art taking something away from the book. “When I work with books, I start by reading the stories and then creating the works from the stories themselves. I veer towards books with illustrations that I liked reading as a child, such as Alice in Wonderland. And I keep going back to fairy tales – especially Hans Christian Andersen. I find the multi-faceted aspect of fairy tales quite interesting.” (Su Blackwell 2011 – http://www.ideastap.com/IdeasMag/The-Knowledge/su-blackwell-interview) Blackwell herself says she gains a lot of inspiration for her work from the books she works with, using this as inspiration can reinforce in the importance of literature in book form to a very technology focused society, the pieces can remind viewers of the importance of the written word.
Blackwell uses incredible detail in her work, it is impossible to take it all in at once, “I’m struck by the beauty of Su’s work. Her pieces are fragile and ephemeral, and the more you look, the more you see … It’s as if she’s weaving with words” (Justin Croft Antiquarian Book seller – http://www.sublackwell.co.uk/profile/ ) This creates the fairy tale world that she admires so much and aims to recreate through her work, the delicate interesting pieces of woodland scenes remind the viewers of fairy-tale worlds, and the detail such as castles and owls creates the mysterious night time that people associate with the beauty of a fairy-tale.
Images from – http://www.sublackwell.co.uk/portfolio-book-cut-sculpture/