Blog: @silhouettist

A modern-day silhouettist tells his story.
Charles Burns writes about his explorations into the art and history of silhouette. His mission is to bring this often-overlooked art to a wider, appreciative audience.

Otho Barden: the Rock City Artist

Otho Barden: the Rock City Artist

Virtual Studio Day: 21st June 2021 •  Otho Barden was an American artist who cut silhouettes during the summer season at the popular tourist attraction of Rock City at the top of Lookout Mountain, Georgia. He seems to have worked there for many years, probably from the opening of Rock City in 1932 until the mid 1950s. (more…)

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April Fielding, the Crystal Palace Silhouettistte

April Fielding, the Crystal Palace Silhouettistte

The English silhouettistte April Fielding (her description, not mine) is a shadowy character. Until this month, I didn't even know her name! I only recognised a series of very fine postcard silhouettes, made in the 1900s, embedded in graphite and initialled "AF". (more…)

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Audax: the long-distance silhouettist?

Audax: the long-distance silhouettist?

Virtual Studio Day: 23rd May 2021 •  If you Google “Audax” all you’ll find is information about long-distance cycle racing. However, Audax was also a silhouettist with a career spanning over 40 years. This is why I refer to him as the long-distance silhouettist! (more…)

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Mrs Ames, the mysterious Georgian silhouettist

Mrs Ames, the mysterious Georgian silhouettist

Virtual Studio Day: 13th May 2021 •  Who on earth was Mrs Ames? It’s a good question. Considering that only one pair of silhouettes painted by her has ever been identified, researchers have written a surprising amount about this artist (or artists). (more…)

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Baj B: the Lido Beach Silhouettist

Baj B: the Lido Beach Silhouettist

Baj B is one of my favourite silhouettists. I’ve learned a lot from looking at the best of their silhouettes (I’ve no idea whether Baj was male or female, so will use the non-gendered third person). At their best there are silhouettes I would struggle emulate.  (more…)

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William Allport, Liverpudlian silhouettist

William Allport, Liverpudlian silhouettist

It’s only by any accident of history that anybody knows anything about the silhouettist William Allport at all.  He was a workman-like artist who spent his whole life in Liverpool, and never tried to draw much attention to himself. (more…)

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Samuel Andrews: cameo profiles of the British Raj

Samuel Andrews: cameo profiles of the British Raj

Samuel Andrews’ rather ghostly white en-grisaille cameos occupy that strange overlap between silhouette and portrait miniature.Some love them while others find them rather creepy. (more…)

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Edgar Adolphe, a Frenchman in Brighton

Edgar Adolphe, a Frenchman in Brighton

Virtual Studio Day: 25th April 2021 • The Frenchman known as “Monsieur Adolphe” seems to have been quite a character in Brighton. Was he responsible for the myth that silhouettes were a traditional French art? (more…)

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Carl Ackerlund, blacksmith silhouettist from Minnesota

Carl Ackerlund, blacksmith silhouettist from Minnesota

Virtual Studio Day: 18th April 2021 • Silhouettes are famous for being black, but very few are actually made by a blacksmith. Carl Ackerlund, from Minnesota, USA was such a man: a blacksmith silhouettist. (more…)

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Adelaide Gallery daguerreotypes and silhouettes

Adelaide Gallery daguerreotypes and silhouettes

Virtual Studio Day: 11th April 2021 • The Adelaide Gallery is more famous for its innovations in Daguerreotype than for silhouette cutting. Nevertheless, a number of silhouettists seem to have worked there. The London gallery was active in the mid nineteenth century. (more…)

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Portraits and Caricatures by Inger Eidem

Portraits and Caricatures by Inger Eidem

I heard about Inger Eidem long before I knew her name. Whilst cutting silhouettes at events I'd occasionally meet people who'd tell me about silhouettes they had done in their childhood. Apparently the artist cut through two pieces of paper at the same time, one of which became a portrait and the other a caricature. Wait, what?! Is that even possible?

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Prosopographus: the silhouette automaton

Prosopographus: the silhouette automaton

As an artist interested in science I'm aways fascinated by weird pseudo-scientific ideas of the past, especially if they involve silhouettes. Once which caught my eye recently is the Prosopographus.  (more…)

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Trench Life in Silhouette

Trench Life in Silhouette

After watching Silhouette Secrets, recently launched on Amazon, people often ask: what sparked my interest in silhouettes? It isn't such an easy question to answer.  However, my mind often returns to this silhouette, which has been in my family for years. It may well be the first silhouette I ever saw. (more…)

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Our Paul Daniels cameo

Our Paul Daniels cameo

Our film Silhouette Secrets includes a cameo appearance by Paul Daniels.  This interview - our Paul Daniels cameo - was a late addition. We were looking for a magician to talk about Dai Vernon, the celebrated father of close-up magic, who earned a living as a street silhouettist during the Great American Depression. (more…)

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A silhouettist’s approach to data protection

A silhouettist’s approach to data protection

What should a silhouettist's approach to data protection be? This question has been much on my mind recently. I'm not alone; the launch of GDPR in Europe – and the subsequent wave of reply-or-unsubscribe emails – has got everybody thinking. What kind of data do I use? For me, the question has caused me to reexamine some of my most fundamental ideas about the role of silhouettes in society.  (more…)

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Sarah Harrington’s hollow-cuts

Sarah Harrington’s hollow-cuts

I recently came across the work of a talented silhouettist called Sarah Harrington.  She was a professional silhouettist who worked during the latter part of the eighteenth century.  What struck me about about her work (apart from her obvious love of hats) is that they're all cut inside-out! (more…)

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