Collage is often a medium we associate with happy childhood memories of cutting and sticking — seemingly simple to construct, playful and nostalgic — but, from the vibrant cut-outs of Matisse to Robert Motherwell’s enigmatic collages from the 1950s, collage is a medium steeped in creative history, with a fascinating past. One worth celebrating! With that in mind, we wanted to pay homage to the humble collage this month, and explore some of our Affordable Art Fair artists who experiment and work with this underestimated medium.
Did you know the term ‘collage’ was coined by Picasso and Braque at the beginning of the 20th century, and comes from the French word ‘coller,’ ‘to glue’? The technique, where clippings from magazines or newspapers, ribbons, photographs or found objects, paper, portions of text or artwork, are cut out and glued to a piece of paper or canvas, can actually be traced back hundreds of years. Today, it’s an established technique in the world of modern art, after gaining popularity during the 1950s and 60s, as the late abstract expressionists in America took up the medium and made it their own.
Paying tribute to this creative heritage here at Affordable Art Fair HQ, our online shop is bursting with collage pieces, from bright and lively works to more experimental and thoughtful paper constructions. The playful nature of collage means the final product is often unusual, experimental and novel; chances are if you invest in a collage piece, you won’t see anything similar elsewhere. Read on to discover our favourite collage artworks — you may be surprised by the layers of meaning this technique can convey!
Susila Bailey-Bond’s intricate ‘Love Birds’ highlights the amazing detail that the working in collage can achieve. Her painstakingly detailed cut out flowers and leaves fill her mixed media canvases, which bridge the gap between design and sculptural collage. Having originally studied fashion, Susila’s background means that her work as a visual artist moves between 2D to 3D creations. Her works are miniature celebrations of colour and pattern, and the perfect way to invest in your first beautiful collage piece.
Showing with Caiger Contemporary, we’ve fallen in love with the brightly coloured abstract artworks of French artist Blandine Bardeau. These works – which she calls ‘drawing-collages’ – rely on mixed media to form their ephemeral, sculptural quality: using ridged paper cut-outs, as well as latex, coloured pencil, felt-tip pen, magazines, and peeled-off dry acrylic shapes. Her collage technique is playful and free, featuring more meticulous, carefully drawn patches overlaid on sections of paper cut-outs. The contrasting colours and forms make for unusual, special pieces; they’re also affordable too, so a great gift for anyone interested in abstract artwork!
Combining monochrome forms with swipes of bright colourful paint on card, Mark Charlton’s 2D mixed media works are abstract combinations of screen print, painting and collage. The textural works are reminiscent of urban landscapes, or cranes in the sky between skyscrapers. Taking his inspiration from science fiction novellas from the 1950s and 60s, Mark embraces colour and shape with a gritty urban edge, giving his work a contemporary twist. Created over long periods of time, his experimental, multilayered approach intertwines more traditional collage materials with the addition of screen printing. The relationships between these different mediums are what makes the work so exciting.
Reminiscent of the pointillist art movement of impressionist artist Seurat, Anamika’s dots are actually mixed media pieces. In ‘Four Colour Separation’, the artist painstakingly repeats the dots to create one clear image. Anamika believes: 'There is no special liking for or dislike of something, even a bomb blast, death, disaster, flood, love, emotion, pain,... everything is just two dimensional dots at the final point of a journey.’ Once more, we see the medium of collage take a more in-depth, thoughtful stance, where the medium itself becomes a symbol. In this case, Anamika gives the dot a conceptual meaning, it serves as a visual metaphor for repetition, a mantra or meditation.
Working across disciplines, Elisabeth Lecourt creates delicate dresses and shirts, from meticulously and beautifully folded antique maps, with additional pieces to portray belt buckles, pockets or labels. Through her evocative series of works she aims to create ‘a portrait of people through their clothes, like a blue-print of their soul’. By using antique maps as her medium she adds another dimension, as a sense of vulnerability and sensitivity are instilled in the work. We think these are beautiful, thought-provoking works, and would be a wonderful way to add a little collage to your home!
Hannah Battershell’s mixed media pieces, made from layered slivers of Japanese paper, are eerie, charming and funny all at once. Taking her inspiration from a variety of sources, including dreams, medieval paintings and Victorian children's book illustrations, her works have an innate melancholy to them, something that Battershell skillfully conveys, and the medium of collage reinforces through its innate sense of nostalgia and childhood.
Bonnie and Clyde, Tokyo Beat, mixed media on paper, £850, Liberty Gallery.
Artworks from first to last:
Susila Bailey-Bond, Love Birds, mixed media on paper, £3,250, Fflow Gallery.
Blandine Barbeau, Petit Collage XII, collage on paper, £390, Caiger Contemporary Art.
Mark Charlton, Titan 34, collage on card, £450, Liberty Gallery.
V. Anamika, Four Colour Separation, mixed-media on board, £1,700, The Noble Sage Art Collection.
Elisabeth Lecourt, L’or de tes Yeux, collage on paper, £2,900, Amanda Aldous Fine Art.
Hannah Battershell, Beneath the canal waters, mixed-media on paper, £600, GX Gallery.