Cut and Paste: Celebrating Collage

We chat to nine !GWAK creatives about the experimental, compositional and mindful possibilities of collage.


MEG WATTS


WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT COLLAGE?

I like collage because I fell in love with Constructivist propaganda and Dada surrealism, back in my mid teens.How could you not? These pieces are massively powerful because they draw so obviously on the world around them: they have purpose, and carry hefty political weight. Through altering perspectives just slightly, they are able to rewrite and re-envision the future (whilst commenting on the absurdity of the present).


SHOW US YOUR FAVOURITE AND TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT IT.

I made this collage, ‘No.14.’, to accompany a poem about experiences of isolation during Quarantine. I liked the idea of representing 2m social distancing measures with the length of a surfboard: I also played on the individual surfers as isolated wayfarers, navigating the solitude of space. The smiling women provide not only some much needed female representation, but also a simple truth: We’re effectively all riding this wave out together, even if we feel very much alone.


'No. 14' - Meg Watts


WHAT DOES COLLAGE ALLOW YOU TO SAY?

With collage, we can imagine a possible “other” world, built straight from the pieces of the past. The landscapes presented are foreign, yes, but only just. This other world is impossible, yes, but only just. Collage allows us to see differently. To contrast and connect: to reveal patterns, to think freely, to move outside the realm of possibility. It is taking parts of the world as you see it and forming something new; a reality framed through your own perspective. Ali Smith says it best in her novel, ‘Autumn’:


‘Collage is an institute of education where all the rules can be thrown in the air, and [...] foreground and background all become relative, and [...] everything you think you know gets made into something new and strange’.

Ali Smith, Autumn, 2016. P.71/72



KARREN BARCITA


WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT COLLAGE?

I was drawn to collage as a medium because I grew up seeing my dad do it a lot for fun, with family pictures usually. As I got older, trying to solidify my sense of style in art, collage enabled me so much freedom to explore different genres and to think outside of the box. It's very flexible and innovative.


SHOW US YOUR FAVOURITE AND TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT IT.

This untitled piece of mine is my favourite because it represents how art keeps saving me from going on a downward spiral of self-hatred and cynicism. Collage continues to play a vital role in my life not only as an artist but as someone who struggles with being bipolar — to be able to express myself through this creative channel makes life a little bit better every day.


Untitled - Karren Barcita


WHAT DOES COLLAGE ALLOW YOU TO SAY?

Collage helps me explore sensuality and surrealism. As a sex positive artist, I want to promote acceptance of body image and experimentation as a form of self-love and growth. Also, dream-reality confusion has been quite a reoccurring experience for me, and that is a theme I wanna emphasize in my visual metaphors.



RYAN COURTIER


WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT COLLAGE?

The freedom of expression it gives me. Theres no limit of images I can use, and I like trying to make collages look ‘other-worldly’, yet recognisable, in what they’re trying to convey visually.


SHOW US YOUR FAVOURITE AND TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT IT

My current favourite is 'Beautiful Bloom'. ‘Beautiful Bloom’ is blooming from the paper and it’s a heart-felt reflection of the love I have for Nature, and waiting for the tides to change so I can see my love again. I feel like it’s a kind of tied-up energy I have inside of me with COVID going on… I need to travel again and see the world’s beauty!


'Beautiful Bloom' - Ryan Courtier


WHAT DOES COLLAGE ALLOW YOU TO SAY?

I hope I get a few messages across to people through my collages. 1- Being that we should all spend more time in nature…because it’s the best! 2- I have my style so I can use my

botanical elements and change them around depending on the theme of the collage. 3-

Being, hopefully, that I can inspire people with my use of colours and forms - if it brings some degree of happiness to peoples lives then I’m happy!



MILLIE NORMAN


WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT COLLAGE?

I like re-purposing and recontextualising images. I enjoy taking images from one space and superimposing them within another, drawing attention to parallels and connections that were already there subliminally. Collage is also one of the most accessible artistic mediums; as someone with no background in visual art, it has given me a means through which I can visually articulate my thoughts without counterproductive self-criticism or lack of resources.


SHOW US YOUR FAVOURITE AND TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT IT.


This piece is called 'Eggs for Days'. The images were sourced from old National Geographics and 1970s porn magazines. It's a comment on hypersexualisation, fertility and the mental fragmentation of the body through trauma.


'Eggs for Days' - Millie Norman


WHAT DOES COLLAGE ALLOW YOU TO SAY?

It's given me a sense of humour - a way through which I can explore the relationship between sex and power through visual puns and comedy. It has been healing to poke fun at the patriarchal power structures that, as a queer woman and an SA survivor, have starkly impacted my life. Though humour is at the core of my collages, I disjoint and separate body parts to highlight the depersonalising aspects of PTSD; I play with the visuals of discovery and religion to demonstrate that the sexual rhetoric of patriarchy operates in a similar way to national power structures. Collaging has given me a way to mock these structures, allowing me to reclaim them in the same way I reclaim the pictures I use.


LUKE UNDERWOOD


WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT COLLAGE?

I would say that, since photography has been around, there has been a big shift towards making statement artwork, because there is no longer a need for realism in painting. Realism is a show of technique, and this is still impressive, but many artists have moved away from this to abstract work, which is an appreciation for the unknown. Collage, on the other hand, utilitises mixed media, which includes photography, with painting and a multitude of different techniques. It allows you to be more expressive, but there is only a finite amount of source material to use that accommodates to specific subjects, so you need to be smart in ways of working. Experimentation can also be quick, and it's likely you won't realise the possibilities you have until you place all your materials in different compositions. This can lead to a completely new avenue of working.


SHOW US YOUR FAVOURITE COLLAGE AND TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT IT.

I did this back in college. I was playing with the general idea of childhood and nostalgia. I chose to work on top of a photocopy of one of my mono prints, which causes the sharp lines to fade. I worked on top of this with basic colours and materials to enforce the idea of childhood. The use of Mickey Mouse plays on the consumerism and celebrity culture that is inescapable at a young age.


Collage by Luke Underwood


WHAT DOES COLLAGE ALLOW YOU TO SAY?

There is little you can't say with collage, especially in today's world where most people have access to the internet. With so much to say, it's no surprise artists don't want to say anything at all but allow visual representation to play a greater role. I suppose with modernity, it is easy to forget to look backwards; however, the use of "vintage" photography in collage is making a big comeback. This is fantastic as those pieces of history are transformed into commentary for the modern era. Collage is an open book for anyone to say whatever they'd like - whether talking about social constructs or the vital role film shares with art, there is no end to what can be said.


ALEXANDRA HERNANDEZ


WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT COLLAGE?

I enjoy collage because you're able to create something new from things that already exist. It's fun to reimagine images or events through the seemingly endless ways to collage.


SHOW US YOUR FAVOURITE AND TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT IT.

I think, right now, this is my favorite collage I've done. It's about the fleeting passage of time but also about how I rarely get to see my half sister, Sophie. So much happens inbetween the times we get to see each other and it's difficult to accept that she'll continue to grow without me. I love her gaze in the photo - her innocence really shines through. I made it out of scraps of contact sheets and prints I made in the darkroom.


Collage by Alexandra Hernandez


WHAT DOES COLLAGE ALLOW YOU TO SAY?

There's not necessarily any blending involved in collage, which allows you to be bold with your words and images.



GEORGIA KEELING


WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT COLLAGE?


Collage is used primarily as a development medium in my practice. I like the versatility of it - how you can reuse images and give them new purposes and a different narrative. I love the different messages given through the compositions - it can be seen as humorous, dark and erotic (so to say) all at the same time.


SHOW US YOUR FAVOURITE AND TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT IT.


This was a collage from the initial development of my AVULSION project - I love the promiscuity and dark nature of it. The combination of red tones to show death and love, the explicit images of murder allude to trauma. I was able to communicate the emotions of fear, awkwardness and disturbance created by the relationship between sexuality and trauma. My collage made me uncomfortable and, for me, this is the aim of my work. 


Collage by Georgia Keeling


WHAT DOES COLLAGE ALLOW YOU TO SAY?


Collage allows me to find the dialogue to speak and connect initial ideas. Due to my work being highly contextual, there’s a lot of combining my own personal opinions along with arguments towards and against big statements - it gives me a pathway to connect and understand my own messages created through my art, finding the emotions and ‘words’ that I cannot even begin to speak about directly.



MOLLY BERNADIN


WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT COLLAGE?


I like how you can make something so personal out of other people's art, and non-personal sources. It's like reinterpreting what you're given, and putting it in another context. I like that it challenges you to think in that way, not taking things as they are, but as you want them to be. I think it's a good mindset in life, and practising it through art is really fun.


SHOW US YOUR FAVOURITE AND TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT IT.


This is my favourite collage. During lockdown, I started mailing collages to friends, and they'd mail me collages back. Sometimes we mail half finished collages and create collaborative art. I made this for my friend Caitlin, personalised to our shared experiences and in-jokes. I love it because everything has meaning, and the back-and-forth of art was a great way to stay in touch, have fun, and show we're thinking about one-another.


Collage by Molly Bernadin


WHAT DOES COLLAGE ALLOW YOU TO SAY?


I think you can use collage in many ways, sometimes it is a way to relax, just focus on aesthetics. Sometimes it can be a way to create really interesting statements about the world, by blending different media together, drawing links between things and making people think about these connections where they might not have before.



LIVVY MITCHELL


WHAT DO YOU LIKE ABOUT COLLAGE?


I love the how playful and immediate it is; most of the time pieces come together quite quickly and I'm basing the composition purely on intuition. I like having the ability to make collage as a body of work that works altogether, as opposed to just individual pieces.


SHOW US YOUR FAVOURITE AND TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT IT.


I just made this today, for a project I'm doing that is super process driven. I'm archiving loads of collage pieces on a website. I just really liked how quickly this one came together.


Work by Livvy Mitchell


WHAT DOES COLLAGE ALLOW YOU TO SAY?


I think it gives me the ability to combine various imagery and ideas all at once, in a way that I don't think I could do in another medium. I like that it lets me explore topics in a visual way that isn't always immediately obvious to others - I think it's interesting to let other people decide for themselves what the work is saying.