Paper Cuts

Text by Tish Wrigley
“More than collage and a step away from painting, Caroline Popham’s new collection of works on paper is an experiment in abstraction and an exploration of colour in a time of darkness.”


Emerging from the confines of lockdown Caroline Popham’s latest pieces mark a change from her large scale painted canvases. ‘I felt drawn to paper and its possibilities,’ she says. ‘I was looking for something intimate, as well as a chance to experiment, to see what emerged.’

Titled Paper Cuts, the works make nods to signature elements from Popham’s work - inherent movement, mesmeric colour, abstract shapes that merge to form a coherent whole. But the use of paper adds a rough edge that feels appropriate for the moment, a reviving energy that jabs through the undulating forms.


As always, the starting point was colour. Responding instinctively, she painted huge sheets of soft cotton paper in a patchwork of blues, pinks, greens, oranges and soft blacks. The painting process can be frenetic and that movement remains within the work. From there, she cut create shapes, slivers and scraps which she either positioned immediately on a painted backdrop or put aside to be resurrected later. 


The process of cutting, painting and shifting things around is a grounding one,‘ Popham says, ‘At a time of separation and disruption there is a sensuality in knowing I have touched every piece, held and placed it specifically.  She set boundaries - ‘part of the challenge was to keep making until there was nothing left to work with’ - allowing the configurations to emerge gradually from a deeply meditative process.


‘It was a time of flexibility,’ she says. ‘I started off by getting lost in the colours and the tones, and what emerged are works that are held by structure and form. The process reflected many of life’s realities back at me - that there are infinite possibilities for everything, that you can problem solve using what you have. At a time when the world felt quite dark and heavy, I located a profound lightness in the process, one that I hope emerges in the work.’

September 18, 2021
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