Nicola Bentley

I have always been creative and tried my hand at numerous crafts and arts over the years. However, nothing seemed to grab hold of me until I discovered the art of Papercutting – influenced by artists Rob Ryan (for his whimsical folklore-inspired cuts) and John Speight (for his intricate silhouette works) in particular.

Papercutting is both challenging, yet simple: just me, my scalpel and paper. It allows me to focus intensely, with great attention to detail, whilst clearing my (often busy, noisy) mind at the same time.

My designs are all individually cut by hand (not laser), from a single unbroken sheet of paper, with a blade. A 2D cut picture can be as simple or intricate as I choose, depending on the subject matter or commission brief.

My style has evolved greatly over the last year with increased time and practice, and has developed into a highly illustrative medium, using the cut paper to reflect light and dark, rather than colour, and then mounted in relief to give it 3D depth, texture and shadowing.

Every piece of work is unique – a slip of the blade cannot be replicated – and commissions are bespoke, personal, honest.

Working in majority from photographs, modified to suit the work, I particularly enjoy cutting natural images – flora, fauna, textures in nature, but also unusual buildings and their forms. I also like bees! I cut a lot of bees…

You can follow my work on Instagram @thepaper_bee

Touching From A Distance (Reflections)

Whilst not wanting to go down the very obvious “mirroring” imagery, “Touching From A Distance” may, on first glance, appear to look like a reflection.

I wanted to portray the very strange, and estranged, world that 2020 has been so far because of the Coronavirus pandemic.

It has given us time through lockdown, to slow down and reflect on all aspects of our complicated modern lives, the priorities and choices we have made for ourselves: the realisation that we have become so physically separated from each other, preferring instead the cyber world of social media and unknown followers to our own neighbours.

In turn, the very real separation through lockdown, from family, friends, and colleagues, has thrown us back into conversation, community and compassion.

“Touching From A Distance” is an image that has resonated within me throughout my own personal four-month shielding. To be so close, yet so very far apart, from all those important to me, and this original papercut is my friend reaching out towards me against my window pane.

A layered papercut of two sheets of 120gsm paper in contrast to each other, and adapted from a personal photograph, it details our two outstretched hands pressed against opposite sides of the glass. Each 2D cut has been mounted in relief to create a 3D sense of depth, distance and separation.

Touching from a Distance (Reflections)
38 x 30cm