NYTHU is sponsoring a series of maker-led workshops at Ruthin Craft Centre to coincide with Aelwyd – an exhibition exploring contemporary craft for a Welsh interior.
I asked Helen Flynn to tell us more about the workshop she’ll be offering, and the inspiration behind it.
Helen, you’ve been making bespoke paprcuts for sometime now, but you’re creating a new body of work for Aelwyd. Can you tell us a bit more about what you’re making and the inspiration behind it?
Yes, I’ve been making papercuts for about six years now. I started whilst studying architecture in Manchester. I went to a free ‘papercut’ workshop at the University one evening, and I’ve been cutting paper since then! My work has developed since then and I now create commissions for all sorts of occasions such as a wedding, special birthdays or a new baby. The pieces combine symbols, images and words that mean something to the people who receive the pieces. Like a sort of contemporary ‘embroidery sample’, but in paper. This is how I developed the idea for the Aelwyd exhibition. For me, samplers are a symbol of home and family, and something very personal. And so suit the exhibition theme very well!
One of the pieces includes a charming poem – where did you come across it?
Whilst studying the traditional samplers, I noticed that many contain a few words – a verse from the Bible or a short piece of poetry. My aunt, Ann Rosser, often write poems for special family occasions. I asked my aunt to write a few words inspired by the word ‘Aelwyd’ so that I could include it in the design. Its lovely to include words written by a member of the family who is so dear to me, especially considering the exhibition is called ‘Aelwyd’, which conjures images of family and home for me.
You’re clearly very excited about these new ideas, is that why you’re so keen to share the things that inspire you in a workshop?
Yes, its wonderful to be able to work on a new series of work, which is a bit different to what I usually create. The recent series is a natural progression, which is also rooted in the handicraft tradition. I’m glad to be able to share this enthusiasm!
So what can participants expect on the day?
Participants can expect half a day of designing and creating. We’ll work together to create a unique paper artwork, inspired by traditional sampler patterns and based on things that are personal to them.
And should they bring anything with them?
If the participants have a short piece of poetry (no more than 4 lines in length) that they’d like to incorporate into the piece, that would be great. Also a picture of a house or home they’d like to create a portrait in their piece. Other than that, we’ll supply the paper, cutting mats, scalpels and sampler images for inspiration.
And finally, for the curious amongst us, what is it about papercutting that you love so much?
Each piece is unique and reflects personal things. There is nothing better than creating or receiving something personal. When I make the pieces I concentrate completely on the work on the cutting mat as I need to really concentrate the cut the intricate parts. In doing so, I forget about work pressures and find this a good way of relaxing!
Helen’s workshop will be held at Ruthin Craft Centre on Saturday 14 September. Other workshops include felting a contemporary love spoon with Claire Cawte and weaving a ring nest with Rosie Farey. You can download full details of all the workshops here. To book, please call Ruthin Craft Centre direct on 01824 704774.