Friday, September 9, 2011

Interview: Papercut Artist Nia May

An exhibition of paper cuts by Nia May
17th September – 5th October

Explain the concept exhibition ‘Paper and the Blade’ and tell us what people can expect to see at the show?
Paper and the Blade is a collection of papercuts I made over the past year. They are created using only paper, a knife, and the gentle disarray of my mind. I like to think of these images as postcards or snapshots from a sweet and slightly strange world rendered into 2D by my trusty little knife. This world is inhabited by a motley cast of little girls and skeletons, birds, bears and tea pots.

What is papercut, and what do you enjoy about working in this medium?
Papercut is the art of slicing away at a piece of paper to reveal the image hidden within it. I love the immediacy of making a papercut, no long hours waiting for paint to dry for me! Also unlike painting there are no subtleties of tone and shade, just the contrast of paper on paper. I like the spontaneity – the way that no matter how carefully I may plan and sketch my idea, the final piece always has its own idea about how it should look.

When and how did you start making papercuts?
My paper odyssey started a few years ago when I was making stencils to screen-print my designs onto clothing. I quickly realised that I am no screen printer - ink went everywhere! But I could cut nice clean stencils. Although not brave enough to use my stencils to brighten up unloved street corners, I kept my scalpel and blades. By chance I saw some Chinese papercut art on the internet, and I was hooked before I’d even made my first one. It’s incredibly addictive and satisfying and the simplicity of paper and a blade constantly inspires me.

Where do you get inspiration for your work?
After I had my daughter, I began collecting Little Golden Books, cute textiles for her room, and reading stories from Hans Christian Anderson and the Brother Grimm. I am so inspired by the benign kind of humour to be found there (as well as the sometimes bizarre imagery), and they reminded me of the imaginary world I lived in for - let’s face it - most of my childhood. And it’s that feeling of safe but surreal that I am trying to recreate with my papercuts. I also spent some time in Mexico, and fell in love with the countless images of skeletons and ‘las calaveras’ I saw there around the time of dia de muertos.


  1. Wow... looks so interesting!! Can't wait to come and see her work! Love paper cuts :)

  2. Very pretty ... paper cuts, dia-de-los-meurtos and perpetual cups of tea ... a lady after my own heart! :)


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