Hollow-cut life studies

The month of May, as well as being busy season for silhouette cutting at weddings and other events, is also the month for Mays Barn open studio here in Reading.

As usual Mays Barn is open for two weekends in May, giving me an opportunity to show a set of the new hollow-cut life studies which I’ve been working on over the last year or so, as well as an excuse to invite friends and artists over for a drink this Friday.  Do get in touch if you need an invitation!

Bernadette from the Back

Bernadatte from the Back, pencil on scissor-cut paper, 2011

Hollow-cut life studies

Apart from iPhone drawings I’ve been experimenting with hollow-cut life studies.  I call these my “chameleon” drawings, since they change completely depending on the kind of wall one hangs them on.  I use the facility with scissors I have built up (after so many years cutting silhouettes) to cut away the figure from inside the paper.  I then draw-in extra details of hair and drapery with a fine pencil.  The drawings are framed between two sheets of glass so that the wall is visible through the ‘hole’ and becomes part of the image.  The rounded effect on the girl’s shoulders is created by the shadow of the paper on the wall.  For me this is an exciting new direction so I have assembled a collection of these images and plan to start exhibiting them this year.

The first opportunity to see these will be at the Reading Contemporary Art Fair, during the last weekend of April, at which I have taken a stand. There is a private view on the evening of Friday 27th April – for which I have a number of tickets – so if you feel you might like to come to this just send an e-mail and I’ll pop one in the post for you.

The inspiration for these half-drawings – half-silhouettes – came out of the research I did for my recently-published book ‘Mastering Silhouettes’.  They are based on a technique of ‘hollow-cutting’ with scissors, last used in early nineteenth-century America.  My idea was to take this technique into the life room and experiment with a much more contemporary style of work.  The work is still quite experimental, but I’ve taken a selection of them and mounted them in a set of double-glazed frames, allowing whatever wall they are hung on to show through the ‘hole’.

There are a number of guest artists and craftspeople from the Caversham Arts Trail joining me in the barn this year: Louise Spiers , Sophie Waite, Peter Quarmby and Brenda Graham. We opened last weekend to bright sunshine and a record number of visitors, and are hoping this weekend will be the same.

Mastering Silhouettes

Mastering Silhouettes pages 64 and 65

One of the spreads from my new book ‘Mastering Silhouettes’.

As well as the range of art, copies of my book will also be on sale, with me there to sign them.  If you don’t already have a copy, this will be a good opportunity to remedy the situation.

If you can’t make it this Friday do pop in over the weekend.  I’m working at a couple of events on Saturday – one at least of which sounds rather alarmingly grand – but I’ll be around all day on Sunday to sign books and indulge in conversations about art.  It would be great to see you if you can make it, but if not I’m sure well meet at some future event.


Blues Brothers silhouettes

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2 comments on “Hollow-cut life studies

  1. Nicki Gregory says:

    What a gorgeous and unusual medium… Such a different and arresting take on a still life. I love it, I’d definitely hang this on my wall! It would be interesting to see this framed – maybe lifted slightly in a box frame to create some shadows.

  2. Rosemarie says:

    I was first “drawn” to Charles’ work after attending an exhibition in Newbury, Berkshire quite some years ago. I was stunned at the beauty and originality of his creations. I was subsequently honoured to be able to model for him at his studios and then after recommending him to my step daughter, she engaged his services at her wedding, to stroll amongst the guests and create their silhouettes. It was a creative, relaxing day for all who attended and the guests were able to take a little piece of the event away with them

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