Wednesday, April 10, 2024

Ayumi Shibata: Spiritual Meaning in Her Paper Art

 For those followers of my art blog, you know how fascinated I am of what artists can do with the most widely used material such as paper. Such an artist is Ayumi Shibata from Yokohama, Japan.


Shibata takes paper cutouts to another level. She creates dimensional paper art from pieces so small they can be held in the hand to pieces so large that they can include an adult person!


Her largest pieces can require over 100 pieces of paper. Her smallest pieces were made to fit inside of a glass vessels in a series she titled, "The Jar." Using lighting, the depth of the paper layers enhances the piece.


For Shibata, her works are an expression of "kami." In the Japanese language means "god," "spirit" and also "paper." With these spiritual inspirations in mind, she outlines the paper with a pencil before she begins to cut out the design freehand. As she stated:

"White paper expresses the yang, light and the process of cutting expresses the yin or shadow. I cut out works while imbuing my wish that we can coexist without forgetting our gratitude and awe for all things and nature that support our lives."






Wednesday, April 3, 2024

Marianne North: Botanical Artist & Exceptional Victorian

 It seems that Spring is really busting out all over - most especially here in the PNW. It's definitely a time of celebration as daffodils, crocus and snowdrops are all poking out of the ground as a wonderful welcome to the season. 


It seems a perfect time to share an artist, who did so much for all botanical life. Marianne North, (1830-1890) was a prolific biologist and botanical artist in the Victorian Era. Unlike what was expected to be the life of a woman during that era, North took a different direction.


In fact, North not only traveled solo, but also studied plants all over the world. She described everything from the Redwoods of California to the Borneo pitcher plants. She was determined to paint as many plants in the world as she could.



Her inspiration for traveling, describing and painting as much 

 as she could was inspired by her visits to Royal Botanical Kew Gardens - located in London and home of trees and flowers from around the world. Here again, her direction separated her from the artists of the era.


 Whereas, it was the style to paint flora in watercolors with a light background to show the flowers as natural as possible. North chose to paint with oils in order to increase vibrancy and impact. She also preferred to create the background in which these flora were living. It was considered a bold and bright style not seen before.



Along her travels, she discovered flora unknown at the time. She kept careful notes to advance botanical science. Today, the Marianne North Gallery at Kew Gardens contains 800 of her paintings!