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Paper Collage by Ros Freeborn

Paper Collage by Ros Freeborn 01

Paper collage is the most magical medium. You don’t need expensive paints, fancy brushes or great packs of crayons or pastels, all you need is a pile of paper and some glue!

You can use tissue paper, wrapping-paper, wallpaper, print of all kinds and when you sift through and draw out paper which interests you, something wonderful happens; the papers ‘speak’ to each other, and art is created. I like to use random fragments of paper to conjure the impression of faces, places, ideas and events. Once you start thinking in the way of collage there’s no going back. You see potential in every piece of paper - no magazine will ever be safe in your hands! I’ve spent my life scavenging old magazines from offices, hanging onto gift-wrappings and nipping into stationery shops and DIY outlets to pick up unusual paper which has caught my eye.

It’s entirely possible to ‘paint’ with paper.

I went to art school with the intention of learning how to use oil paints to make portraits. Well, I did learn the alchemy of oils, and love the process. And I do make portraits but, as I developed my work, I couldn’t help adding paper to my canvases. In the end, my kindly tutors suggested that I should devote myself to paper collage and I haven’t looked back.

Using paper to make art is not a new thing. Some of my favourite artists, such as Matisse, Picasso and John Piper, have used paper in wonderfully creative ways, often combining scrap paper with paint or ink. I take inspiration from these artists and believe that using paper is an extension of the painter’s palette. Collage is a brilliant way to recycle paper which would otherwise be chucked away.

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The name 'collage' was created by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque who were the first artists to use collage as a revolutionary method for creating modern art. They came up with the name "collage" from the French verb "coller" which means "to glue" or "to stick".

Having established that I could create art using collage I developed large, narrative pictures using torn magazine pages. Then, after creating canvases depicting big, brightly coloured flowers I made a decision. Rather than replicate these works as posters or cards I decided to create a product and chose to make lampshades from paper to become a canvas for my art. That was the light-bulb moment and Papershades was born!

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Collage is a very accessible form of art. You don’t need any artistic knowledge or background just an open heart and faith in your own instinct. When I’m running a Papershades workshop I tell everyone that they are channeling their inner seven year old. It’s such an instinctive way to make choices. By picking up one piece of paper and seeing how it looks next to another you can embrace the spirit of paper collage. There are no rules. People at my workshops let go of their inhibitions and take pleasure in the variety of paper I offer. I’m always blown away by the variety of designs which are created.

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Some designs tell a story, some are decorative, some reference personal interests – maybe you love birds, butterflies or boats – and some are just a joyous mish-mash of paper pieces which come together in a magical way.

Once the design is complete I print it onto five panels of Papershades paper. It’s a lovely strong cartridge paper. Then, once trimmed and assembled the shades are ready to be admired.

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Try collage for yourself, join Ros for a Papershades Workshop at Living Crafts