Popping Back to my Childhood

Paper and scissors are like chocolate and orange – fun separately but when you put them together amazing wonders unfold. I recently did a workshop with paper artist, Benja Harney. It was for pop-up books. I’d tried making my own sketch books and thought I could somehow translate some skills into what I wanted. I went expecting to do some cutting and pasting.

What I got what was a look into a beautiful crisp cut world of Benja. Apart from a lovely guy he is an immensely talented artist. It was a moment when everything became connected. The gallery where the workshop was held was host to an exhibition on book illustration. A good kick in the pants to once again enjoy the art of drawing. To stop sooking -as in some of my previous posts.

Works by Shaun Tan, Graeme Base and Ron Brooks made me feel like a kid again, reading books for the pictures. I remember making a dust jacket for The Mouse That Roared in primary school. It sticks sharply in my mind, I loved doing that. The folding, drawing and writing. I remember thinking this is what I want to do forever, it was magic, I made the ship huge and the mouse sit in a boat in the foreground.

The exhibition let me into that magical world where imagination becomes reality and in Leigh Hobbs’ case – follow a sculpture of Mr Chicken who went to Paris.


The last of the day unfolded when I arrived home to find my beautiful daughter had bought me a new book on her travels : Six Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm with Illustrations by David Hockney. A reprint from the 1970’s.

The pop-up was unfolding before me. I know that I want to incorporate the owl and the pussycat into my next series of paintings. What better way than to create a book, fold and slice, draw and paint, cut and paste, nip and tuck. My work today was clumsy and far from delicate but I went home in awe, the same feeling when I saw my first pop-up as a child.

I also came away with a few clumsy pop-ups of my own.


5 thoughts on “Popping Back to my Childhood

    • Since the workshop, I’ve had another look- they are even more spectacular now I know the secrets behind them. We made a house too and I can’t stop popping it -it’s magic.

  1. There are som amazing pop-up books available now, paper-art is coming into it’s own again; also just to say I love David Hockney’s illustrations for Brothers Grimm, what a great gift to receive.

    • It was such a coincidence after the book illustration exhibition to come home to a book of fairytales illustrated by such a great artist. Serendipity! Cheers Sue

  2. I love taking workshops for artists books also. I haven’t done a pop up one though. I like the intimacy of holding the books in your hand and the surprise on each page. Like little sculptures.

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