The Alluring Paper Cuttings of Clare Pentlow
At first glance, the intricate paper cut designs by Clare Pentlow appear soothing and calm. They depict flowers of some kind, bright in their appearance, symmetrical, and very easy on the eye.
Look a little closer, though, and you soon see these are flowers with a difference. In fact, they aren’t really flowers at all. Instead, they are complex geometric shapes made up of tiny cuts in coloured paper.
When discovered on this level, the soothing flowers take on an almost dangerous narrative, with the sharp points of the paper a far cry from the soft petals of nature.
Clare Pentlow creates each piece by cutting hundreds of sharp points into a backdrop of layered paper. The most prominent shape in her designs is the circle, ranging in size, colour, and pattern, which seems to resemble the centre of an exotic flower.
By using brightly coloured paper, Pentlow enhances the idea that the viewer is looking at an exotic plant – highlighting the contrast between the serene natural state of such an object and the slightly angrier tone it takes on when carved out of rigid paper. There are a number of pieces rendered in a monochromatic colour scheme, though, which allows the skill involved in this intricate style of paper cutting to stand out.
Pentlow’s journey into paper cutting began when she was studying at Swansea Metropolitan University in Wales, where she worked on a book project that allowed her to experiment with using paper in various different ways. Through this, she grew increasingly interested in folding and cutting techniques, and soon honed her skills in creating flawless geometric pieces.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about Clare Pentlow’s work is the size of each piece. On first inspection, you might think these were huge, mural-sized pieces. But, in actual fact, each piece barely measures six inches widthways and lengthways. This only serves to enhance the intricate nature of her pieces, which must have taken an incredible amount of skill and patience to create on such a small scale.
For Clare Pentlow, the process of working with paper is an intentional one. She “enjoys the process of turning such an ordinary, everyday material into something extraordinary,” which is perhaps why she’s chosen to create exotic-style designs to play on the extraordinary element.
Each piece is made up of layers, each one adding something new to the design, whether it’s a splash of colour or a multi-dimensional feel. Pentlow piles up concentric discs of paper and sets to cutting each layer into a series of sharp points that almost bring it to life.
It is the juxtaposition between the pretty patterns and the sliced points that really make Pentlow’s work stand out from the crowd. Beneath the veneer of the intricate craft and the geometric shapes, there is the notion that there is something more to these pieces; something scratching beneath the pristine surface.
This is what makes Pentlow’s work so likeable – not only are her pieces multi-layered in an aesthetic way, but they also hint at layered meanings behind the obvious.
Enjoy the track “Speed City” by Studio OST while viewing the additional works below.
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