This week’s Friday Feature Artist is the amazing and extremely humble Clare Lindley, of Papercutter girl. I was able to catch up with the lovely Clare via telephone this week and get to know her and her artwork better. This is what happened, enjoy!
You are quite a country girl at heart, what is it that makes the quiet life your cup of tea?
I’ve lived in the country all my life bar a few years when I was at college and a brief stint in York, just to see what it was like. I’ve never found it boring, and being surrounded by so much nature makes you more aware of the beauty there is in the world and how we are a part of the cycle of things. Since starting papercutting nature has become an inspiration so I’m right where I want to be. I don’t sit in fields drawing what I see, but there is something to see every time I leave the house and it all gets filed away to be used or not, at a later date. I’m not into crowds and busy places, and can be a bit of a recluse so I am happy being a bit of a bumpkin. And I must belong here because I got asked to judge the handicrafts at the local show the other week! What more could a girl want!!
Is there anything about city living that you wish you had in your cottage?
The only things I wish were on hand would be galleries and museums, and all the lights glittering in puddles on dark, wet winter days. It would be nice sometimes not to have to drive miles, to meet up for coffee!
What’s your most treasured possession?
Ooh, this is hard! If it can only be one, it will have to be a book, A Ballad upon aWedding, illustrated with wood engravings by Eric Ravilious and published in 1927 by theGolden Cockerel Press and is one of only 375 copies.
Do you have a special artist that you love to collect and why?
A printmaker called Johnny Hannah. His work is rooted in British folklore and can be quite dark at times as he draws on the true tales not those cleaned up by those pesky Victorians! So his pictures are full of ghostly black dogs and dead maidens. He also publishes his own books which I am lucky enough to own two of. He plays the ukulele and he thinks I’m a witch! What’s not to like!
Did you always want to study art?
I did, though I briefly toyed with nursing and my art teacher stopped talking to me!
How were your college days and what did you study?
I studied Graphic Design back in pre-computer days, yes, I’m that old! I hadn’t a clue what it was when I applied, and was petrified I’d not be able to do it when I got there, but I loved it, especially the illustration. It was hard work as we had tight deadlines to work to and I always left things till the last minute but I learned a lot and it was the start of my obsession with detail. We worked hard and drank hard, there are a few lost nights from those days . . . it wasn’t my fault it was the vodka!
What influences if any did you have growing up?
I was drawing practically as soon as I could read apparently, usually animals and birds my mum always encouraged me. We always had books in the house, so reading fed my imagination as did an old set of Encyclopaedias. I didn’t enjoy secondary school it was too big and there were too many people but I had a fantastic art teacher, Mr Rafferty, who was so encouraging, and made me feel that I could grow up to be an artist.
Is anyone else in the family creative?
I have to say, nearly everyone in my family has a sensible job! Although my brother has a side-line in customising motorbikes, my mum is a bit of a demon flower arranger on the side and my dad was a church organist, Elgar expert and fireman! So creativity in different ways.
Have you ever had other none arty jobs and how were they?
Up until recently I’d always had other jobs, nothing glam. Pubs, shops, theme park and for a couple of years I gave up art altogether and was a cleaner! The word ‘cleaner’ in a rural area covers a multitude of sins and I met some characters! The couple who kept or left (delete as you wish) their kinky bedroom stuff out all over the place, whips and handcuffs anyone? Then the polar opposite, with gardening and bird watching, with the eccentric old dear who just wanted a bit of company. I remember a young couple who lived in a house with a ghost, who banged around upstairs until it got used to me. Then the lady whose very rotund husband would walk around the house naked! You see country life isn’t at all quiet and boring!!
How did you find papercutting and the Papercutter girl style you have today?
I fell into papercutting by accident, I’d been helping a friend to make cut out wooden shapes for mobiles and enjoyed it apart from the noise and the sawdust floating in my tea. I thought I’d have a go at cutting out something less messy, paper. I’d no idea what I was doing so it was definitely a case of trial and error, most of what I did ended up in the bin and I nearly gave up. Eventually I twigged how it worked. I wasn’t a great one for using the internet then so never thought of looking it all up. I hadn’t even heard of Rob Ryan! So, I persevered. Initially I worked in just black and white but as I’d been a painter, so I gradually started adding bits of colour to my cuts. It has only been in the last couple or so years that I’ve started creating full colour pieces, building up the layers as I go along, painting with paper. I don’t work out each layer when I start I just decide what will look right where as I go along. I don’t know how to use computer programmes so it’s all done by hand.
What’s your favourite thing to do when you are not creating art?
I’m afraid it’s nothing exciting, it’s reading. I just got finished with The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman second time round too!
How was Ghost Bunny born?
Ghost Bunny nearly wasn’t born! I came up with him on a miserable rainy day, got him half finished then decided he was too odd and the colours too bright so he got chucked on a shelf and forgotten about for several months. Then, one day I wasn’t in the mood for starting a new picture, so I rummaged about looking for something half-finished and found him again. This time I did finish him and finally plucked up the guts to post him in one of the groups to see what reaction he got. I was gobsmacked that people liked him. Now he is a big part of what I do. An inauspicious birth but he got there in the end.
What exciting news has been happening for Clare Lindley this year?
Well, it has been an exciting year workwise. I’ve illustrated 2 books for a writer friend, ghost stories for children, done a book cover for another writer which has just gone off for printing as we speak. I’ve a children’s picture book to illustrate, written by someone else, which will be published next year. I was taken on by a greetings card publisher and my designs have proved popular, the National Trust have just asked for samples so I’ve got everything crossed in the hopes that they say yes! I’ve just done an article for the Artist magazine about my working process which will be in the January 2017 edition. And I was a finalist in the Specialist Media category in the makers’ awards run by Craft and Design magazine. Added onto this list I’ve got commissions to do, an art fair and a two-woman exhibition with a painter friend. And, for myself, I have started writing a book about Ghost Bunny.
If you could have 3 wishes what would they be?
If I were a Miss World contestant they would be, world peace, world travel and marry a millionaire! But I’m not so . . . A five door car because my dogs are snobs and don’t like my three door old banger! A London exhibition and. . . to live in a house in a wood!
What advice can you offer to potential new artists starting out?
Take that leap into the unknown and do it. It’s scary putting yourself and your art out into the world but that world is full of people who want art. Sometimes it can be a hard slog and sometimes the ‘business’ side can be a bit daunting but there is great advice out there.
How does real world networking compare to online?
As we live in the age of the internet, the world really can be your oyster, it is all there to connect with. And if it takes time to build that audience use it to your advantage and refine your style/technique, or go mad and organize your own exhibition to showcase what you do.
I know you have the most distinguished Ginger Tom cat, as he’s featured in some recent designs, tell us about him?
Ah, Stitch, my red and white Persian boy who acquired me via my mum’s rescue. He’s been my little helper for about two years now and is about fifteen, cute, in a walked into a wall sort of way, he thinks he is a dog a lot of the time. He sits in the garden surrounded by birds totally oblivious to them and has got looking gormless off to a fine art, although he is a superhero behind that facade! He goes out when we’re asleep in his cloak, mask and with his underpants on inside out and rescues girly cats in distress! (you can see how Ghost Bunny made it big now!) And I can’t use my computer without him coming and draping himself over my arm, so he is reading every word I type about him. He helps with my papercutting too, now that is a challenge, hairy papercuts anyone???
What do you think you will be doing in ten years’ time?
As long as my eyes don’t fall out I hope I will still be papercutting and that I have a ghost bunny book or two under my belt. I’d still be doing my nature based pictures too, and who knows, I can hope to have that cottage in a wood.
So there you have it, a very wonderful insight to an extremely talented lady, humble, carefree and full of the good life. Thank you Clare for allowing LLD into your thoughts, watch out for next week! In the meantime, you can find Clare’s online world below:
On the web: www.papercuttergirl.co.uk
Clare’s Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/Papercuttergirl
Ghost Bunny Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1615972098729847/