Cardiff has been my home since I came here to study music at the age of 18. I married and had my family here and have a great affinity with Wales. I like to feel that I’ve been accepted here as an honorary Welsh woman and it seemed only right to give my papier mache site a Welsh name, Llunio, which means to form, shape or fashion.
I always knew I would follow an ‘arts’ route after leaving school – the only decision was in which field? I loved both art and music, but chose to study music at Cardiff University and make it my career- first as a peripatetic clarinet teacher, then as Marketing Officer at Welsh National Opera and later as Administrator of their education department and finally as the Administrator of a charity working with profoundly disabled adults through the medium of music and dance. But throughout all of this, I was drawing and making silver jewellery to satisfy my need to create something.
In 2014, while browsing YouTube, I came across an American woman called Jonni Good who was making beautiful papier mache animals using a paper mache ‘clay’ that she made herself. Intrigued, I decided to have a go and became totally obsessed.
I quickly realised that it was human figures that I liked to sculpt and I started experimenting with different techniques and materials and developing my own style. I wanted to make my sculptures almost completely of papier mache clay and paper and so I abandoned the typical wire armature and instead, made mine from scrunched newspaper, masking tape and sometimes a wooden cocktail stick to reinforce particular areas. I sometimes dress my figures in paper clothes and use coloured paper and powdered glazes to colour them but at other times, I leave the sculpture in it’s original colour. I rarely use paint as I think it gives the pieces the look of a mannikin.
I’m fascinated by the human form and love the way papier mache can be sculpted to create the contours of muscles and bones. It’s amazing how the tiniest adjustment can suggest a change of expression or pose and I’m constantly learning and striving for greater control of the medium.
I show my work in exhibitions and galleries and have an online selling platform at artfinder.com I regularly receive commissions to create portrait sculptures which are always a challenge but I enjoy them because they encourage experimentation and invention. Commission subjects are varied: I’ve sculpted musicians, gardeners, ramblers, a scout master, an Oxbridge Don in full academic robes and even a football supporter wearing the West Ham strip! I try to capture the stance and mannerisms of my subjects and I like to include something personal such as a favourite book or a piece of jewellery. Each piece is unique, I would never want to make the same piece twice.
Nowadays, I work as a full time sculptor and sculpt every day in my studio in the garden. Several times each year I run workshops introducing others to the wonder of paper mache. It is my passion and I can’t imagine life without it.
Visit my gallery page to see a selection of my work and please contact me to discuss purchasing or commissioning a sculpture.