When I'm working on a series of collages, or in this case two series, I usually lay out a few of the canvas or wooden supports I'm going to use as well as the boxes of materials: papers, scraps of fabric, antique photos, pressed flowers and leaves, antique letters, glass beads, old keys...
For the first few days I experiment, placing items here and there, trying to come up with combinations that make sense to me: the feel of a certain key with the handwriting on a certain hundred and fifty year old letter...
I fiddle with scraps and bits, leaving them for a while and coming back to them, exchanging items or starting from scratch.
Once I'm in the midst of things, I usually give up trying to maintain order, finding that too stifling of the creative process at this point.
This is - of course - loads of fun with a kitten present.
The ones with the antique photographs take longer. I've decided to start with eight of the photos I bought in London's Spitalfields antiques market in November. They are all women, which wasn't intentional, but I found that as I was looking through the countless boxes of old photographs they had, it was the women - and girls - who spoke to me. They intrigued me. Each looked like she had a story to tell.
With these, it's not just the composition of the collage that I'm after, it's also the line of story. I jot down notes, ideas, and images in a notebook. Once I've found the right one for each woman, I print them, cut them out, then stain the paper with water colours. So far I have words for six of the eight. Finding just the right line for each photograph is, I think, my favourite part of the whole process. (Yes, that is Molly in the bottom left of the photo.)
Once I'm certain about the composition of a collage, I paste all of the pieces onto the support with acrylic medium.
Here are the first two non-photo collages. These belong to the "Nostalgia" series which I've popped into my Etsy shop.
(15 x 15 cm.)
(15 x 15 cm.)
Here's the only one of the women I've finished so far.
Her line is: "She kept the hearts of her loved ones pressed in a book on her topmost shelf."
(10 x 10 cm.)
She looks quite at home on a bookshelf herself.
And...as I write this, Molly is in the process of trying to un-make some of my collages. I do have a door to my room, but can't bear to hear her meowing on the other side to be let in...