Exploring decoupage

I’ve recently moved house, which has resulted in acquiring and being gifted lots of objects, furniture etc. I’ve always wanted to try decoupage and decided this would be the perfect opportunity. Starting with a wooden coffee table, I painted the table white using chalk paint, leaving the top blank. The next stage was to take out the drawer I wanted to try découpage on the inside first (in case it went wrong!). Thé top wasn’t level so I added in a piece of card and then levelled with gesso. Onto the fun bit! My friend has prior experience in all…

‘Adam & Eve’ after Lucas Cranach the Elder

The Courtauld Institute houses the fantastic ‘Adam and Eve’ by Lucas Cranach the Elder. I drew from it some years ago, a quick pencil study which has been at the bottom of my sketchbook gathering dust. It was when I drew from Cranach’s National Gallery Venus and Cupid painting that I remembered my previous love of this one. What draws me to Cranach the Elder is the bizarre forms of the figures and the composition of the elongated shapes. I looked at my sketch, a detail from the centre of the painting and wanted to continue with my collage series…

"Virgin and Child with Saints (Vision of Saint Jerome)", collage on board, 8.5x9" (framed), Charlie Kirkham 2016.

Vision of Saint Jerome

I started this after the Parmigianino in the National Gallery. The shape was a challenge, especially when I decided to use glue dot backed rhinestones. Fortunately, the rhinestones left over from the enormous Esther Collage came in a variety of sizes, so I got a good fit on the semi circle. Although I’m sure the other devotees of Parmigiannino would be horrified at my homage the collage is in no way intended to replicate the original. Like all the other pieces I’m working on inspired by the National Gallery’s collection, it has been a way of exploring composition. It’s also helping me…

Queen Esther collage (in progress)

It’s a long process using hole punched paper to create a stain glass window! This large scale collage, based on collected sketches, is a great way for me to explore collage on a larger scale. Initially the collage was to be a painting, but the first few bits of paper crept into the canvas no it developed from there. Getting my three wonderful models in the same place has been part of the challenge. Further exacerbated by them now being based in three different countries. The charm of the collage medium is that it allows a reinterpretation of the light….

"Study in Silhouette", black paper collaged onto coloured paper, 14x9", Charlie Kirkham 2015.

Paper Cut Silhouette

I started thinking about turning the Dice and Adicia ink on paper studies into papercuts. This was my first attempt at making a figure in black paper on coloured paper. There is a certain charm to the crude cutting here. It convinced me that more work is needed to get a series of them off the ground and that perhaps the printing direction is going to have more longevity to it. So, with that in mind I’ve begun cutting out the collograph plates for the series, which I will get up once they’re  done.

Creating "Wedding Dance" collage on board, 6x4", Charlie Kirkham 2014.

Wedding Dance

Just stumbled across the half way photo from when I was making the collage “Wedding Dance”, as shown in the ING Discerning Eye 2015. This is before the final touches and perspex cover went on, which makes it a bit easier to see the details in the photo.

"Autumn Leaves", mixed media collage on cardboard, Charlie Kirkham 2013.

Autumn Leaves

This was an exploration of Autumn. What would Autumn be without a little bit of John Keats: SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness! Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; Conspiring with him how to load and bless With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run; To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees, 5 And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core; To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells With a sweet kernel; to set budding more, And still more, later flowers for the bees, Until they think warm days will never cease, 10 For Summer has…

"Flowers on Flowers", collage and watercolour on paper, 700x320mm. Charlie Kirkham 2014.

Flowers On Flowers

This collage was based on a still life set up. I did a quick study in watercolour using a limited palette. What appealed to me about this vase was that it reflected everything, in the collage I wanted to get that sense of reflection, and feel as if when you walked in front of the picture you see your self-portrait. I used textured metallic foil (the kind you use on floors) to create the vase. The imagery was a response to the materials. I really liked the vintage feel of the wallpaper with its gold applique and flowers, so it…

"Six Little Fishes", 6x4" collage on board, Charlie Kirkham 2014.

Six Little Fishes

This was a fun image to work on. The orange paper instantly suggested fish. All the paper used in this small scale collage comes from junk mail. The inside pattern on the envelope made me think of bubbles, that, coupled with the orange, suggested the idea of having the goldfish riding the ocean waves. What appeals to me about collage is the freedom of composition it gives, it’s a very clean way of trying out new layouts.

"Froggy and the Tadpoles", mixed media on paper, 43x30cm, Charlie Kirkham 2013.

Froggy and the Tadpoles

I was trying to merge 2D and 3D in this piece. It started when I saw some googly eyes and thought they looked like frog spawn. This work also linked into the mural I was creating about healthy eating and the life cycle at Rhymes Nursery, Birmingham. Using found buttons, sequins, eyes and leaf skeletons I merged the collage and drawing elements.

"The Red Tree" 420x594mm, collage on card, Charlie Kirkham 2013.

The Red Tree

Based on the Treemen studies in my sketchbook I started to explore the seasons via Papercut collage. Each part is hand cut. It’s a very time consuming process, especially when working on this larger A2 scale. This collage has an element of line drawing (the black lines on the central tree) which was added using paint marker. Using the different papers means it’s really possible to explore different textures. The main trunk of the tree is created with craft tapes in various patterns mixed with a semi-transparent art paper. I used a lot of polka-dotted double-sided origami papers for the…

Red Tree Label

I enjoy working with materials to see their properties. This is a large sketchbook piece based on mock croc skin red paper. Using the paper as the guide I coloured in the tree with paint pens. Exploring pop ups, labels and interactive book qualities I added the label. I love creating pieces you can interact with and change. This study went on to develop into the intricate Papercut collage Red Tree.

Zoro the Lobster

Working with collage has been fun. It’s given me a chance to explore the materiality of the paper a lot more and to find themes in new ways. I added the mask to this little lobster and used an old envelope to give him somewhere homelike under the sea. The motif of the pineapple decoration, from the Masked Ball collage series also comes into play. Using junk mail, handmade paper, old work, recycling pieces and handouts and combining it all with origami papers gives an eclectic feel. What I have enjoyed a lot is using bits of text just as tonal…

ING Discerning Eye 2014

I’m delighted to have had three pieces accepted from the Open Submission for the 2014 ING Discerning Eye exhibition. The Discerning Eye annual exhibition is a show of small works independently selected by six prominent figures from different areas of the art world: two artists, two collectors and two critics. Work is selected from open submission and from artists invited by the individual selectors. Each selector’s section is hung separately giving the impression of six small exhibitions within the whole. Running from the 13-23 November at the Mall Galleries, London. Here are my three pieces.