I am a papercutter. I sit at my table at a window that overlooks the high fells of the North Pennines. The moving sky is enormous. There are few trees and I look down at the patchwork of stone walled fields and across to the heather clad hills that change their mood by the light of the day. At night there are no streetlights. It is black dark, bright moonlight, or star-scattered velvet. The sounds are of lapwings and curlew in the summer, sheep always, wind, water, weather. My children were born, grew up here, and are nearly gone. I am often here alone and my work is borne from being in this place, in this situation. I draw with a knife, cutting away the paper, watching the lines grow, connect, entangle and fill the spaces. They are slow, detailed and revealing. Like these big empty hills, it takes time and effort to see the details. A rough sketch places the seeds, the first cuts begin its growth.
About the art
By a Hair’s Breath We Breathe
Moving through the long grass on a still evening the moths rise and dust the air with silver.
It’s only a small variation on the original saying, but I think it works for this little cut, which took several days to make. We breathe in we breathe out, it’s here and it’s gone, the pulse of life. I cut at my table, most of the drawing covered by layers of paper to protect it from the damage I might cause with my moving hands. Only a small window is revealed as I work. I draw lines taken from the long white hairs that I collect from my hairbrush. They are looped over a pencil in a container in a loose bunch. I draw the strands and their shadows. I am drawing with a knife, removing the space between the lines that grow across the paper. It is very easy to break. I hold it up and it sways as I breathe in and out.
By a Hair’s Breath We Breathe, papercut, 23 x 18 cm. £250
By a Hair’s Breath We Breathe, (knife shown for scale), papercut, 23 x 18 cm.