Pa­per col­lage artist Ros­alind Free­born ex­plains how her new lamp­shade busi­ness is light­ing up her life

Pa­per col­lage artist Ros­alind Free­born ex­plains how she’s mak­ing her art avail­able be­yond canvas with her new lamp­shade busi­ness

Computer Arts - - Contents -

Ros­alind Free­born spent her post-grad­u­ate art diploma paint­ing in oils, but a fas­ci­na­tion with pa­per soon took over, and she found a niche cre­at­ing por­traits of peo­ple in her un­usual pa­per col­lage style. Re­cently, she’s started an art-based lamp­shade com­pany called Paper­shades, which spe­cialises in flo­ral de­signs, and op­er­ates out of her stu­dio in London’s Muswell Hill. Here, she re­veals how it came about...

What gave you the idea for Paper­shades?

For years I looked at lamp­shades – my own and in other peo­ple’s houses – and thought how bor­ing they were. I wanted to find a way to make them into art, whether the light was on or off. I spent a lot of time look­ing at the way lamp­shades were con­structed and de­cided I had to do some­thing rad­i­cal.

How did you get started?

A cou­ple of years ago, I had a show of flo­ral pa­per col­lages made with brightly coloured tis­sue pa­per. They sold well, but not ev­ery­one can af­ford this kind of art, and I didn’t want to do the usual run of framed prints. That prompted me to ex­plore ways to use th­ese colour­ful pieces in a dif­fer­ent way.

How did you go about mak­ing them?

De­vel­op­ing the prod­uct was the hard­est part. I ex­plored the prop­er­ties of pa­per and re­alised that a stiff card or car­tridge pa­per could be self-sup­port­ing. I then worked on find­ing a means of keep­ing the pan­els of pa­per in place. That’s when the ‘re-in­ven­tion of the wheel’ happened. How long did it take to de­velop this tech­nique for mak­ing lamp­shades? It took about 18 months from the ini­tial idea to the launch­ing of the web­site in De­cem­ber 2016. I’m not tech­ni­cal, nor am I a de­signer; I’m an artist. How­ever, I had ter­rific and gen­er­ous help from de­sign­ers, web­site ex­perts and pa­per man­u­fac­tur­ers, who were kind enough to ad­vise me on the right way to take the idea for­ward.

And you’ve been teach­ing it to other peo­ple in work­shops too: when did that start?

The Paper­shades work­shops co­in­cided with the launch of the busi­ness, and have been a thrilling learn­ing curve. All kinds of peo­ple have taken part. The glory of the tech­nique is that you don’t have to be an artist or even par­tic­u­larly creative to par­tic­i­pate.

What’s the big­gest les­son you’ve learned?

I’ve learned that per­se­ver­ance is very im­por­tant, as is ac­cept­ing help from ex­perts. I’m enor­mously grate­ful for the sup­port of all the peo­ple who helped me: the prin­ters, the pa­per peo­ple, pho­tog­ra­pher and web­site builder.

What keeps you cre­atively in­spired?

I see things all the time that strike me as the start­ing point for a col­lage com­po­si­tion. I might spot some un­usual pa­per in a shop, pick up a dis­carded magazine with amaz­ing pho­tos or tex­tures, have a con­ver­sa­tion that trig­gers an idea, or go to a gallery and find my­self in­trigued by an art­work and want to know more about the piece and the artist. The ideas never stop com­ing!

Ros­alind Free­born is a col­lage artist who uses a wide va­ri­ety of pa­per to make her art. www.pa­per shades.co.uk

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