I was born in Bristol but moved to Cardiff in South Wales at the age of 18. It has been my home ever since and I like to feel that I’ve been accepted here as an honorary Welsh woman! It seemed only right therefore to give my papier mache site a Welsh name, Llunio, which means to form, shape or fashion.
There was never any doubt that I’d go down the ‘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 before enjoying a varied career first as a peripatetic clarinet teacher, then as Marketing Officer at Welsh National Opera and later, Administrator of their education department. Then I took up a post as Administrator of a charity working with profoundly disabled adults through the medium of music and dance, but all the while 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, and decided to have a go. I bought Jonni’s book and started making some of her animals and I became totally obsessed.
Almost immediately, I preferred making human figures and I started experimenting with different techniques and materials and developing my own style. I try to make my sculptures almost completely of paper and so I’ve abandoned the typical wire armature and instead, make mine from scrunched newspaper, masking tape and sometimes a wooden cocktail stick to attach the head.....paper is from wood after all! I dress my figures in paper clothes and, apart from a little acrylic paint for skin tones, use coloured tissue paper to colour them – like decoupage. It’s a very satisfying technique - although the detailed work is incredibly fiddly to do – and I get a weird sense of pride that my sculptures are now 99.9% paper.
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 of marks in the papier mache can suggest a change of expression or pose and I’m constantly learning and striving for greater control of the medium.
I love getting a feeling of movement into my sculptures and a particular trademark of mine is to add extra details to add humour or to personalise it for a specific person. Sometimes this could be sculpting a version of a book they particularly like or a piece of jewellery they always wear or giving them an expression or stance that is recognisable to the viewer.
I show my work in exhibitions and galleries and I’m beginning to get more commissions which I love. Commissions are always a challenge and they encourage experimentation because you never know what you may be asked to do or how you’re going to do it. I’ve recently been asked to sculpt a conductor, an Oxbridge Don in full academic robes and even a football supporter wearing the West Ham strip! I’m careful when accepting commissions - I don’t take on anything if I don’t feel I can do a good job and, of course, the subject matter has to inspire and excite me. I only do one-offs – I would never want to make the same piece twice or do anything mass-produced.
Nowadays, I work part time as an administrator and fundraiser for a charity offering vocational training to adults with learning needs, but I sculpt every day, sometimes for several hours without realising it. Papier mache 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.