7 September - 13 October
Seeking the Unseen
Stevi Benson – Cut paper work
Stevi was brought up in Tighnabruaich before going on to study Environmental Art at Glasgow School of Art. Now based in the Cairngorms, Stevi creates intricate drawings and cut paper artworks which are inspired by natural patterns and macroscopic details. Stevi is a member of the Paper Artist Collective, a select group of paper artists from around the globe.
All works are drawn then cut by hand using a surgical scalpel.
In the fine detail of Stevi’s papercutting the process of observation is slowed down. The actual method of papercutting is so painstaking and delicate that by the very nature of it Stevi must slow her pace, press a pause on movement and life in order to capture that lichen and transform it into piece of art.
“I really enjoy the process of repetition, repeating a small mark over and over again until the marks take on their own structure and pattern. Papercutting and paper art really appeal to this obsession. A small cut in itself can be fairly unimpressive but repeat the cut over and over and very soon an impressive and complicated structure can appear. I sometimes give myself rules and boundaries, for example, working within a certain space like a circle. I draw my inspiration from the macroscopic details in nature, the structure of a leaf or a lichen, and the space between branches. I like to take these recognisable patterns and find the abstract and celebrate the beauty of nature’s minutiae. It usually all starts with me going for a walk and taking photographs, I then spend time drawing from the photos and then make a cut paper piece from the drawings. It can be a time-consuming process and it often takes many months to get from the inspiration stage to framing a final piece. I love every minute though.”
An Interview with Stevi Benson
Who and/or what are your artistic influences?
I have many influences, being a member of the paper artist collective is a constant source of paper technique inspiration from other members. My favourite paper artists are Maude White, Rogan Brown and Peter Callesen. My biggest inspiration has always been Andy Goldsworthy, I found his work when I was studying in my teens and am constantly amazed by his work. I always go back to his books when I hit a wall with my work. I love the drawings of Nigel Peake, the embroidery work of Meredith Woolnough and many many more!
Tell me a bit about your practise and the way in which you work.
The process starts with time spent walking in the wilderness. I take my camera and collect photos and any treasure I find such as wind fallen lichens, autumn skeletal leaves and interesting feathers. I then take it all back to my studio where I start drawing from what I find. When I’m happy and the time is right I will start the lengthy process of cutting the piece. Each piece can take many months from start to finish and I often have a few things on the go at the same time.
Why do you do what you do now? What drives you to produce your work?
It is almost like a meditation. It helps me deal with the difficult parts of my life. It brings me closer and helps me focus on small everyday beauty, the little things. It makes me take time to stop and wonder.
What would you like an audience to take from your work?
I hope that it would bring them the same calm that it can bring me, to notice the beauty that surrounds us in nature. The delicate fragility of it all, to look closer.
Is it possible to describe a typical day in the studio?
It can be a very calm place, when I am cutting I almost fall into a trance which can take a brisk walk to come out of at the end of the day! I have my desk for cutting at but I also have a wall for drawing when I need to be a bit more free and spontaneous with my art, I sometimes paint and make a mess but otherwise it’s pretty organised in there, unlike the rest of my life which can be bedlam with a young family to care for!