Su Blackwell uses comfortingly familiar literary characters and scenes, whilst the text wraps around the white landscapes creating a dreamy and enchanting atmosphere, entirely different from any two-dimensional illustration. The delicate paper of these ‘book sculptures’, as Su Blackwell explains on her website, reflects the ‘vulnerability of childhood’ and ‘the fragility of our life, dreams and ambitions’. The ephemerality of paper is also an interesting contrast to the enduring literary sources she works with; many of which are still immediately recognisable, despite being well over a century old. Su Blackwell’s work celebrates the pleasure of reading: of creating new worlds from only ink and paper.
Imagination is also prominent in Rob Ryan’s beautiful paper cut outs. Each of his intricate designs is cut from a single sheet of coloured paper, sometimes only held together by incredibly delicate branches or chains. His work often depicts two lovers surrounded by a mass of birds, leaves and branches or, particularly in his more recent work, against a night sky with hundreds of tiny star-shapes cut out from the paper. These ‘papercuts’ are not just impressive in their craftsmanship, but are made romantic and charming by the phrases that are included in many of them. Rob Ryan’s large-scale paper cut outs for the Yorkshire Sculpture Park (2009-10) centred around the phrase ‘You Can Still Do A Lot With A Small Brain’, for example, and one of the mugs recently designed by him features the slogan ‘Believe In People’. This refreshingly un-cynical approach to modern art and life is reinforced by the folk-art style of the hand-cut and imprecise shapes in his work and by the bright, bold colours.