An Introduction to my work

The minutia of the natural world is central to my work. The texture, palette and material qualities of leather and vellum are used to convey the complexities of this world. Initially trained as a sculptor and installation artist, I have subsequently worked with bookbinders and leatherworkers for many years, learning traditional techniques and taking these skills back into my own sculptural work.

The techniques of on-laying, paring and manipulating saturated leather are used within the work disengaged from their familiar function within book arts. After spending years becoming proficient in these techniques the realisation of their potential in my sculptural work is an on-going process.

 
lichen2web
Untitled (Lichens) 2013, Vegetable tanned leather, vellum

My latest works explores the forms of lichens, a small but significant detail. Inherently curious, subtle but persistent, lichens function as the ultimate decorative surface belying a complex sensitivity to the environments they inhabit. Rendered in extravagantly crafted leather scraps, the artifice of these forms evokes a curiosity about their place within the world.

Core Techniques

Paring

Paring is the thinning of leather with a surgical scapel or paring knife. This is mainly employed to create smooth joins between pieces with no blunt egdes. A small area along the edge of the leather is thinned down until the edge is extremely thin allowing a smooth transition to the next piece.

paring-compweb
Left: Paring the edge of vellum
Right: Paring scraps of leather to make lichens, scalpel and bone folder used to work leather

Paring allows leather and vellum to be thinned in a very controlled way creating minute pieces to transform into lichens or other forms. When vellum is pared very thin it becomes translucent allowing light to travel through its surface and illuminate.

Saturated Gluing

The leather or vellum is glued with a starch paste. The paste is worked into the leather over a period of time infusing the skin and allowing it to become maleable. It can then be worked into forms or shaped around a form.

On-laying

On-laying is used in bookbinding to create layers of colour or texture. Thinly pared pieces of leather are applied to a surface to create a graphic or image. I use similar techniques applying them to three dimensional work.