When I first started getting into art and creativity I was somehow convinced I needed expensive art materials to produce something interesting. I bought more and more stuff but my creativity did not expand exponentially.
My love for nature, and my interest in sustainability has slowly led me to keep looking more and more for what can be recycled. Now I love the whole idea of creating art from almost nothing – recycling and reclaiming materials that are cheaply or even freely available.
The project ‘Burned & Cut’ is entirely made from old and often damaged books that were either given to me, bought really cheaply from the local second hand stores or were saved from the paper recycling bins.
Rummaging around in quirky second hand stores or garage sale was part of the fun and brings back some pleasant memories from childhood. My father is an antique collector, and I grew up exploring with him people’s sheds, barns, back rooms and cellars for lost treasures. Often he brought stuff home that looked beyond repair – with lots of patience he would restore it to something amazing.
Each book I have carries its own story. Often when I look through the pages I wonder about the person to whom the book once belonged. I wonder if they are still alive and what kind of life they have lived. Reading through the book I sometimes feel some sort of connection with the owner or the author…or maybe I imagine it.
Many books have a personal handwritten dedication. One of the oldest dedications I found was dated 1866. One day I found an old book lying in the streets of Lismore, it had a very personal dedication in my own language – German – and was signed and dated 1921. The message translates more or less to:
The Meaning of life is self realization. Death is a birth to immortality. This is my philosophy! And for me, life is a strict school within the infinity of being.
Molly, 1st Dec. 1921
There are many ways of working with old book pages: drawing or painting on the pages themselves, collaging, making visual poetry or creating paper sculptures. After some experimenting I felt most drawn to the techniques of cutting and burning intricate patterns into the pages. The end result is a delicate paper cut that throws a beautiful shadow onto its background.
In my workshops I encourage people to look at materials that are already around them and easily available. Often we are so used to the everyday objects that we put in the trash that we miss seeing they can be transformed into something beautiful and interesting.
Sabine Brosche, 2015