After a hectic few days, ‘Boxed’ is now complete and sitting in a trade show in the Shanghai Exhibition Centre.
It’s been a frantic couple of days, pulling together a piece which I had originally planned to piece together in 5 days. So it may lack the finesse and minute detail I had originally wanted, but given its final destination it’s working just fine.
So. Boxed. It’s 44 black cardboard boxes from which a papercut tree appears to be encased. The brief was to create an installation made from paper for a trade show in Shanghai. The stand was very small and the show gets very busy, so the piece had to be visible, but not in the way. The get in and out times were very short, so it had to be simple in its construction. The client – James Cropper Speciality Papers – are based in the Lake District, and the association with that landscape is key for them and their environmental messages. As a specialistmanufacturer they pride themselves on their ability to make bespoke products, which is where the artists come in.
For me, this brief was also about selling paper to the Chinese and exploring the cultural ties and differences between rural Cumbria and über-urban Shanghai.
The boxes were pre-cut in Kirkby Stephen by my friendly picture framer Martin. A range of modular sizes were designed so that I could play with the size and shape to my hearts content in the studio in China. The boxes were also pre-scored to ensure a quality feel to the final pieces. The trade show was about luxury packaging after-all, so these things matter.
The papercut was originally to be free-drawn. However, with the timescale shifting I decided to base it on an actual hawthorn tree about a mile from my house in Cumbria. The trunk of the tree and the hill were drawn freehand with scissors once the paper panels were fitted. The papercut itself took 6 hours using a scalpel for the little holes and scissors for the rest to remain true to the tradition of papercutting.