I am an artist and I nail my pictures together

Entries are rolling in to the DIYcouture fabric design competition, which is really nice to see. Since it launched last week, I seem to be finding collage everywhere I turn.

The Tate Britain is currently showing an exhibition of the famous collage artist Kurt Schwitters, who fled Germany when his art was labelled 'degenerate' by the Nazi government. Collage is really the art of arranging stuff, and Kurt Schwitters brings all sorts of objects as well as images into his work. The title of this post is a Kurt Schwitters quote. He says of his materials, "I could see no reason why used tram tickets, bits of driftwood, buttons and old junk from attics and rubbish heaps should not serve well as materials for paintings."

Collage art is alive and thriving in the 12st Century too. There are various online websites and magazines dedicated to contemporary collage art, including Kolaj and Notpaper. I've found some inspiring work there, including a series called Ice Cream Kingdoms by Jesse Treece and Delilah Jones

Ice Cream Kingdoms by Jesse Treece and Delilah Jones
And another series called Peyote Poems by Brandon McLean.

Peyote Poems by Brandon McLean
Collage has the ability to look both modern and nostalgic at the same time. I suppose collecting materials to use in a collage is a bit like treasuring tickets, napkins and photos from a particular holiday, conjuring up a similar romantic view of a specific time that has passed. This  interview with contemporary collage artist Laura Redburn includes various pieces of her work that have a definite vintage feel, but also somehow look like a trip to the future.

My first experiments in collage were for my book launch last summer. There are a lot of illustrations in my book showing the variety of ways each piece of clothing can be made. I thought it would be fun to turn these into a paper doll, so that people could dress mini versions of themselves up in the clothes.

I experimented with a miniature me, dressing myself up in red faux leather trousers and a canary yellow hoody and placing myself in an idyllic Swiss mountain landscape.

Whilst hunting for books that could be cut up in the local charity shop, I even found this paper doll poodle! 

The thing I found most fun about collaging was that I had plan - a vague, fuzzy one - when I started, but the materials surprised me as I arranged them, and what came out was nothing I could have visualized before hand.

The same could be said for all the collages that were made on the night of the book launch party. Time and thought has no doubt gone into the work created by collage artists above, and the results are sublime; melancholy, evocative, romantic and striking in their beauty.

The collages made at the book launch were made for fun not for results, often with a pint of beer in hand, whilst chatting to friends and strangers. The results are funny, garish, playful and downright odd, and I love them. Below are some of the creations I managed to scoop up at the end of the night and I'd like to present them here as a gallery of wild, exuberant imagination.

I love that this one manages to look like a football outfit and a shield at the same time. If you look closely the man is wearing high heeled boots made of sweets.

Apart from the flying sting ray this is probably the most sensible collage of the night.

If you look closely at that white dress it has an enormous vertically positioned eye adorning the skirt.

A fairly aggressive statement from a man in a glittery skirt and a magenta wig!

The collage corner is now a regular feature of the monthly Make Escape night above the cinema in Hackney and I'm looking forward to hosting a similar collaging session at Drink, Shop & Do next Monday, March 18th in London. I'll be bringing along various materials including my enormous back catalogue of National Geographic magazines and plenty of coloured paper.

Melanie Bowles, author of this book about digital textiles design will also be on hand, and together we'll be helping people turn their mixed media doodling into a repeated design that can be printed onto fabric. It's always fun to make things in a sociable environment, as opposed to alone at home, and I look forward to seeing the wondrous creations that emerge from the night.

If you're intrerested in coming along, please check out the details here : )


  1. i love your work so much!
    it's incredible!

  2. That was a great session of collaging : ) - lot's of fun results! xx


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