Our July Artist of the month goes to paper cutter Ilse Nieman whose intricate works describe the fragile harmony between the past and the present.
"History and contemporary life co-exists in a delicate, fragile harmony and I like to portray this with intricate paper cuts which can also be broken quite easily."
Where do you make your paper art?
I am a South African, residing in the beautiful city of Cape Town, where I live in the suburbs and work from my home studio.
How long have you been working with paper?
I started cutting paper in 2015, having developed a love for paper through folding origami.
How would you describe your approach to paper art?
I am a paper cutter. The process involves cutting paper away to make a stencil.
Where do you find inspiration?
My surroundings inspire me, nature, the city, the people. The diversity of people and architecture influences my work very strongly at the moment. History and contemporary life co-exists in a delicate, fragile harmony and I like to portray this with intricate paper cuts which can also be broken quite easily. Life as we know it can tear at any moment and nothing should be taken for granted.
Describe your work to us in three words:
Meticulously intricate stencils.
What are your favorite papers to work with?
I work with 120gsm cartridge paper after trying many various papers over the years. I find, with the detail in my work, a thinner paper works best. It is also ergonomically better for my shoulders and wrists to work with thinner paper.
What tool could you not live without?
I cannot live without size 11 hobby knife blades, quickie glue and of course a cutting mat. My magnifying glass has become indispensable over the years too. My feline studio companions are very necessary tools too, they keep things from getting too serious!
What is the best thing about working with paper as a medium?
Paper has been giving us a means to communicate and make art since it was invented around the first century CE. It’s been creating stories for us through books and illustrations, carrying our histories around the world. It allows me to tell my stories by partly destroying it. Paper is forgiving, but can be mean too. The possibilities of what one can do with paper are endless.
Who are your favorite paper artists?
Everyone in the Paper Artist Collective of course, and many, many others I find on social media. There are so many, it is hard to pinpoint anyone specific. There are so many different forms of paper art too, I am inspired and intrigued on a daily basis!
What are you working on at the moment?
I am in between projects at the moment, gathering resources for an upcoming group show in November. I just finished my second solo exhibition in paper cutting in April.