Our next interviewee comes from Bournemouth, UK where she specializes in bringing to life the portraits of her paper sculptures. Her truly unique style reminds me of marionettes putting on a show or conveying a certain emotion in how they are captured through her work. A lot of her work represented here showcases that of familiar fairy tales we all grew up with, although her work has a very broad range. I present to you paper sculptor Sher Christopher, I hope that you enjoy her work and interview as much as we have.
Tell us a little about your background — what path led you to what you’re doing now?
I started my art degree intending to be a furniture designer, but after taking a year out to work in countryside conservation I realised that I was more interested in sculpting and graduated from my final year with a show of huge carnival puppets and masks using a form of papier-mâché. It’s been a gradual process of refining my work and skills in working with just paper.
What have been some favorite recent projects/clients/collaborations?
My favourite project to date is completing the sculpture of ‘The Monkey King’. I saw a painting of the same title back in 2007 that took my breath away, it was full of colour and movement and expression. I had always wanted to do a sculpture of the character but only recently felt my skills were up to the job. I got the sculpture exactly how I wanted it, full of movement with an elegance and lightness to it, with expression and a balance but vibrancy of colour. And his eyes follow you as you move around him. I totally nailed it! He’s in a private collection now, but he still has my heart, although sadly I don’t have many pictures of him, just the ones on my website. I would still love to own the painting though if I ever got the chance!
How would you describe your creative process?
I’m pretty structured in my approach to sculpting: I’ve found that working set hours in the studio, wherever it is based, helps my creativity and keeping a routine keeps the work flowing, although I do love spontaneity in my projects and work. Whether it’s a commission, a project or personal development of my work I start with research, then take that research and use it to develop my ideas, then often I build maquettes to test those ideas, but occasionally I’ll go straight into the final design and sculpt. Since starting a monthly newsletter this year I’ve begun showing some of the creative process. I love seeing the development of other people’s ideas and now I’m sharing some of mine so hopefully others will find it interesting.
Who is your favorite new artist of 2011/2012?
When I’m holed up in my studio it’s very easy for me to lose touch with the real world but an artist who grabbed my attention is a painter called Minjae Lee. I look at his paintings and wish I could paint like that – I love his imagination. Another artist, not new, just new to me, is Laurie Lipton, an artist who works with graphite to produce incredibly detailed drawings that are often rich in humour and the macabre, a balance that takes great skill to achieve. Last year I returned to sketching outside of my sculpting for my own personal development and her work is both daunting and an inspiration.
What is your favorite travel destination?
I love travelling, especially anywhere new to me, and this year I’m planning on going to Austria for the first time for the Bregenz Festival. Venice is also on my to-do list this year. But one place I love returning to is France and in particular Paris. It’s the only city I ever felt I wanted to settle in.
What’s the weirdest thing you have ever done with paper?
I’m often struck by how odd my day job is when I really think about it but the one that sticks in my mind was sculpting a severed wolf’s head, complete with dead eyes, lolling tongue and dripping and splattered blood. It was part of the Twisted Fairytales character ‘Red Riding Hood’ and not something one does everyday. Those characters are a lot of fun to sculpt and I think I’m going to return and add to that little series!
Are you involved in any upcoming shows or events? Where and when?
I haven’t set any plans for shows this year, although I am hoping to take part in Amateras in Bulgaria for the first time this year and I’ve been approached to lend some work for a charitable event. I decided at the end of last year to concentrate on a project that will take around six months to complete and will culminate in new works that will be a big leap forward in my style as a sculptor. I’ll be looking for some exhibition space to show them at the end of this year. It just felt like the right year to make that step forward, maybe I’m just feeling inspired by the Olympics and dreaming a little bigger than usual!
If you could collaborate with anyone in this world, dead or alive, who would it be?
I would love to have created set designs with the French filmmaker Georges Melies, or worked on characters with Jim Henson. Right now having the opportunity of working on an animation would be my dream project. And I love street theatre so working with Royal de Luxe would be a gift!
What websites do you use for inspiration?
I recently joined Pinterest and it’s a gem of a website, a real wealth of visual wonders and I’m already thoroughly addicted!
Have you always worked with paper, or have you used other mediums prior?
I started out as a furniture designer, working with wood, but as the figurative work took over I began using a form of papier-mâché that incorporates cloth and involves clay moulds. But the process is time-consuming and very messy so I transitioned into working with just paper to achieve the effect I was after. I do still love sculpting with clay though, when I get the chance.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our viewers?
I have a Facebook page and I love hearing people’s feedback and thoughts on my work and projects as they develop so I would welcome them to come and join us there!
We thank you so much Sher, for answering our questions and sharing your work with us! To our viewers, be sure to post below with your thoughts and if you know of any artists that work with paper that you would like to be interviewed be sure to shoot us an e-mail.