technique + making of
My analog collages contain dozens of cut out pieces, each meticulously hand-scissored after being chosen for their content, and also importantly, for their scale. Collectively, these layers are combined to form a new reality, and it’s this technique that’s applied for each original work.
While my resource library is vast, specific decades from 1950s-70s are usually a starting point for subject matter, and give my works a retro-futuristic vibe – especially in the modernist architecture of the era.
In developing my collage style, I set my own rules early on, whereby I would camouflage any noticeable blunt edges or cuts, in order to make a work that is as seamless as possible. This may mean covering an imperfection, or, for example, extending a subject matter if only part was usable from its original source. This problem solving is an integral part of my process when conceptualising these new visual narratives.
scissors are my paintbrush
At the very beginning, I may have a subject in mind, which I'll cut out so I can start building the picture out. I look through vast amounts of original resources: in my studio, there are trays organised in category such as architecture, science, nature, people etc. This is usually my starting point, and then I progress to the hundreds of books I have on my studio shelves, mostly vintage finds that I've been collecting for many years. Because of this process, I tend to find other images that inspire, so it's not uncommon to work on two or three collages at a time. It's always such a creative time, when starting fresh. Once a story starts to form, I'll concentrate and complete the work, down to the smallest detail/cutout.
A recent development has allowed me to produce larger scale pieces, by custom printing large backgrounds, on which I'll build the analogue work. It creates a seamless quality, to which I always strive in my style.
In the example above, you can see how the women and pool were cut out, then placed on various backgrounds as ideas before deciding. I always photograph every option, as I find it's good to look on a device to instantly choose what's looking best.
The next stage is gluing the dozens of pieces, layer by layer. I build the collage to its complete stage, only to remove all the pieces except the bottom piece/layer. This is then marked on the board to show where it sits, and then I use a super strong and permanent glue stick to adhere. The piece is placed exactly where its marked, and a roller or wiper is used to press out any air bubbles and make it perfectly flat. I then repeat the process and build the picture back out, only to remove again so the next layer can be marked exactly where it needs to glue. It's a long and detailed process but is very rewarding once completed.
Once glued and dry, the collage is sprayed with several layers of gallery-quality archival matt spray. This not only protects the artwork, but gives an overall matt finish so there's cohesion in look to the finished collage.
Here you can see the subject (Sydney city) is cut out and placed on various options, before deciding on background, and then built up using dozens of architecture pieces.
Painting with paper! The timelapse video shows how all the pieces are combined in a very detailed way.
Pieces camouflage blunt cuts and edges, to form a seamless new image.