THE ART OF COL­LAGE Some glue, scis­sors and old mag­a­zines are all you need.

Cre­ativ­ity doesn’t re­quire ex­pen­sive kit, says Bethan Rose Jenk­ins – glue, scis­sors and old mag­a­zines are all you need

In the Moment - - Contents -

There’s a room at the back of my house where you’ll of­ten nd me. Pa­per rus­tles softly, punc­tu­ated only by the oc­ca­sional sound of scis­sors cau­tiously slic­ing. These sounds merge with my own slowed breath­ing as I move gen­tly to­wards my goal. Achieve­ment, for me, has al­ways been fo­cused around pro­duc­tiv­ity and e ciency; a feel­ing earned when I meet a dead­line or tick an er­rand o my to-do list (nei­ther of which, I re­alise, have crossed my mind for hours). Yet, smooth­ing my hand across the cool sur­face of my nished col­lage, I feel a gen­uine sense of ac­com­plish­ment.

Art re­quires con­cen­tra­tion. It draws you into a me­thod­i­cal and cre­ative process, di­vert­ing you away from the fast-paced stresses of daily life and into the mo­ment. “Art is an amaz­ing way of con­nect­ing with the whole brain and body,” says In­te­gra­tive Arts Psy­chother­a­pist Emma Cameron (em­macameron.com). “It’s about tak­ing time out and al­low­ing your­self to be cre­ative.”

Although art ther­apy is con­ducted with a ther­a­pist like Emma, art ther­apy is a per­sonal process that any­one can try. It in­volves view­ing or even cre­at­ing some­thing artis­tic alone, with friends or per­haps as part of a class. In­volv­ing our­selves prac­ti­cally in a phys­i­cal process can help us to develop dis­tance and per­spec­tive, al­low­ing space for us to work through any wor­ries.

“Mak­ing art is a very mind­ful prac­tice to me. I ad­mit to get­ting rather lost in it,” says sur­face pat­tern de­signer Julie Hamil­ton (juliehamil­ton­cre­ative.com), who uses col­lage to cre­ate colour­ful

art with a oral aes­thetic. “I am able to think about other con­cerns dur­ing this process and eas­ily solve prob­lems.”

His­tor­i­cally-in­spired col­lage artist Amanda White agrees (aman­dawhit­edesign.com). “For years, col­lage was purely my hobby,” she says. “Now it’s also my job, yet I still nd my­self do­ing col­lage for my­self to un­wind in the evenings af­ter work­ing on com­mis­sions dur­ing the day.”

Collaging is the method of as­sem­bling di er­ent images, tex­tures and pat­terns into a piece of art­work. As an art form, col­lage has blended al­most im­per­cep­ti­bly into pop­u­lar cul­ture and mod­ern life. “Think of The Bea­tles’ Sgt. Pep­per’s Lonely Hearts

Club Band al­bum cover,” says So­phie Moates, a col­lage artist spe­cial­is­ing in al­bum de­sign (www. so­phiemoates.com). “That was col­lage and one of the most iconic al­bum cov­ers peo­ple re­mem­ber.”

Yet, com­pared to other art forms, col­lage is still rel­a­tively young, only re­ally emerg­ing at the begin­ning of the 20th cen­tury. It be­came pop­u­lar dur­ing the Cu­bist move­ment (an ab­stract and frag­mented style of art), thanks to artists Pablo Pi­casso and Ge­orges Braque. They de­rived the name of the new tech­nique from the French word ‘coller’, mean­ing ‘to stick’, and col­lage was born.

Over time, the process de­vel­oped, begin­ning to in­clude pho­tographs af­ter the First World War and be­ing taken up again dur­ing the pop art era of the 1950s. To­day, as with most things, col­lage has merged with tech­nol­ogy. Dig­i­tally de­signed ver­sions dec­o­rate the walls of high-street cloth­ing stores, while so­cial me­dia has cre­ated an in­ter­net-based

gallery for col­lage works. In­sta­gram, in par­tic­u­lar, has be­come an ideal space to both ad­mire and show­case these pieces, although many col­lage artists still pre­fer to use the orig­i­nal method. “Cre­at­ing col­lages by hand, the tra­di­tional way, pulls you away from the screens, away from the com­puter, phone and tele­vi­sion,” says So­phie. “You get some ‘me time’ to to­tally un­wind.”

Luck­ily, you don’t need to be a pro­fes­sional artist to have a go at cre­at­ing your own. Un­like other tech­niques, col­lage is al­most im­me­di­ately ac­ces­si­ble to ev­ery­one. It doesn’t re­quire any par­tic­u­lar ex­pe­ri­ence or spe­cial equip­ment to get started, just a pair of scis­sors and a stack of pa­per, brochures or pho­tographs. “Pa­per col­lect­ing can be done any­where,” says Julie. “Make it an out­ing or part of some hol­i­day fun. Col­lect pa­pers from spe­cial places or events: maps, ticket stubs, pretty pat­terned menus – you’ll

nd ma­te­rial ev­ery­where. All you need then is a glue stick and a pair of scis­sors.”

The rst stage of col­lage is to choose your ma­te­ri­als and any images or colours that you want to in­clude. This is the time to be cre­ative; let your imag­i­na­tion lead you slowly through the pages of mag­a­zines, sheets of pa­per de­signs and mem­o­rable to­kens. You don’t need to make a de­ci­sion straight away, just al­low your­self to ex­plore.

Dur­ing the re­laxed process of se­lec­tion, ex­plains arts psy­chother­a­pist Emma, we be­gin to en­gage the more cre­ative, right brain over the more log­i­cal and an­a­lyt­i­cal left brain. We may feel drawn to cer­tain images or colours and should trust our­selves to fol­low our in­stincts. As we con­cen­trate more on the artis­tic process, we be­come deeply ab­sorbed within it, which is of­ten re­ferred to as ‘ ow’.

“When you’re in that ow state, it’s in­cred­i­bly good to make you feel bet­ter and im­prove your men­tal health,” says Emma.

These mind­ful bene ts can also con­tinue long af­ter the prac­ti­cal process has nished. For ex­am­ple, you may choose to com­bine a cre­ative se­lec­tion of images into a beau­ti­ful and in­spir­ing vi­sion board. When­ever you be­gin to feel doubt or be­come un­cer­tain, you can re­turn to your board for reassurance and guid­ance.

When it comes to cre­at­ing your col­lage, there re­ally are no hard and fast rules – it is com­pletely up to you. “The beauty of col­lage is that you can’t re­ally mess up,” says Julie. “If you do some­thing that you don’t love, you can al­ways paint or glue over it.”

“Don’t worry too much about the nished piece,” agrees So­phie. “Just have fun, play around, ex­per­i­ment and you’ll nd your groove.”

Col­lage truly is for ev­ery­one. De­signs can be as sim­ple or as in­tri­cate as you choose, whether

“The beauty of col­lage is that you can’t mess up”

Julie Hamil­ton

“Don’t worry about the fin­ished piece – just have fun”

So­phie Moates

you de­cide to cre­ate a piece of art, vi­su­alise goals or pre­serve pre­cious mem­o­ries. Ex­plor­ing col­lage art as ther­apy could also un­lock a mind­ful ex­pe­ri­ence with bene ts ex­tend­ing far be­yond the cre­ative process, what­ever your artis­tic abil­ity or your level of ex­pe­ri­ence.

If you’re feel­ing in­spired to get cre­ative or take a mo­ment away from it all, turn the page to read our top tips on how to get started, and nd our cut-outs for your own collaging cre­ations.

Col­lage artistAmanda is in­spiredby his­tor­i­calar­chi­tec­ture.

Sur­face pat­ternde­signer Julieuses col­lagein her art­work.

So­phie uses col­lage to cre­ate strik­ing de­signs with un­usual im­age com­bi­na­tions. Below: col­lage gives tex­ture to Amanda’s de­tailed art­work.

Col­lage artist So­phie spe­cialises in al­bum de­sign.

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